Gotta cache them all
You could end up wading into a seawater cave, hiking up 5000-metre mountains or even diving into the Pacific all on the quest to find a Geocache. While not all caches are this extreme, what is certain is that the activity will take you on enthralling adventures and lead you to places that you may otherwise never have discovered.
With more than ten million registered users and around 2.5 million caches hidden in over 180 countries, Geocaching has certainly become a popular activity for many people all over the world.
Malaga province features among the many locations with hidden caches. A glance at the official website shows that an extensive range of areas have been targeted, from Malaga city centre to Nerja, Marbella, Antequera, Torremolinos, Fuengirola, El Burgo, Álora and many more.
What is Geocaching?
Geocaching, founded in 2000, is essentially a worldwide treasure hunt that tests your physical and mental capabilities. The concept is simple enough; using GPS-enabled devices, people try to find caches, which have been hidden in all kinds of obscure areas all over the world. When they find a cache (a small container or box), players enter the date they found it, sign it and put it back. Some caches contain tokens for trading.
It is common for locals of the area to hide caches in places that they think are worth showing to the rest of the community. This means it is a great way for people to discover a more exciting, less trodden path that is often unknown to tourists or even other residents.
Swedish music producer, Fredrick Hast, 34, came to Malaga on holiday and found it to be the perfect pastime. “I was able to see Malaga from a completely different perspective to that of a tourist,” said Fredrick, who first got into Geocaching in 2011 when a friend suggested it to him. “The beautiful mountains, the sea and the weather make Malaga a great Geocaching town,” he said.
Experienced Geocacher, Manuel Burló, 36, shares that view. He has found around 7,100 caches over the past five years and told SUR in English, “There is no travel guide or map that can quite prepare you to learn things about your surroundings like Geocaching can. It has taken me to places I could not imagine existed. I have travelled to other countries and experienced a whirlwind of adventures.”
Malaga is one of the most diverse provinces in Spain; with a range of very different landscapes from the mountains to the coast, it offers many different types of caches that meet all the expectations of Geocachers. Recently BBC Travel Show filmed a programme dedicated to Geocaching in the area of Mijas-Fuengirola.
The Spanish community involved in Geocaching has greatly increased in number over the years, with now around 56,000 hidden caches all over the country.
There has also been an increase in the number of participants, some of whom meet through events or simply share experiences on social media.
Hast, who has made more than 100 Facebook friends through the game, said, “I would even call a few of them close friends, people who I would hang out with outside of Geocaching. Some of them lifelong friends.”
This year Spain will host two mega Geocaching events with over five hundred teams attending. The first one is to be held in June in Torrefarrera (Lleida), and the second will take place in July in Pilar de la Horadada (Alicante).
Cache In Trash Out
Groundspeak, the company responsible for Geocaching, also endorses a programme called Cache In Trash Out. It is an environmental project dedicated to improving natural surroundings through the efforts of Geocache members.
The idea is that on each hunt, members support the environment by picking up any litter they find. Cache In Trash Out was set up in 2002. Since then a host of events have been created to encourage the removal of litter and invasive species, replanting in affected areas and the creation of new trails.
Geocaching continues to attract people wanting to be challenged mentally and physically by a game that offers both personal and community benefits.
John McRover Geocaching reviewer
“I wanted to give something back to the game that I love”
A reviewer is a key figure within the Geocaching game; his or her job is to ensure that caches are always maintained and meet necessary requirements. Some of the other roles include: publishing new caches on the website, removing caches that aren’t maintained, solving any issues raised by members, and more. In short they help keep the game alive.
John McRover (as he is known by the Geocaching community), 65, is the reviewer for the regions of Andalucía, Extremadura, Castilla -La Mancha , Murcia and Valencia (also the cities of Ceuta and Melilla). Malaga and its coastline fall under his jurisdiction.
–How did you become a Geocacher reviewer?
–You yourself cannot apply to become a Geocacher; you must be appointed by Groundspeak, the company in charge of Geocaching. They proposed the position to me five or six years ago and I decided to accept the challenge. It is my own personal way of contributing; others contribute by developing new caches, organising events or teaching new participants.
- What does the job entail?
- I accepted the position as a way of contributing to a game that I love. I normally spend a few hours a day working for Geocache, and I am pleased to do so.
- Who mainly participates?
- In the traditional tourist areas, such as Malaga, the Geocaching community is divided about 50/50 between locals and foreigners such as British and Germans.
- In your opinion what are the benefits of Geocaching?
- Geocaching is an activity that can be done with friends or individually. You can also do it with your family. Kids love it, and they get completely involved in it. It can be practised at any age and is suitable for any level of fitness. How many other activities do you know that meet this description?
- So do you play individually or with other people?
- I’m more of a ‘lone wolf’; I like to reach my treasures like a predator capturing prey. But many of my colleagues love taking part with other cache hunters, it’s a great way to socialise with others.
- Is Malaga a good area for Geocaching?
- It’s great - currently there is a local group of very active Geocachers in Malaga who are doing interesting things. At the moment they are even planning on planting hundreds of caches along the Mozárabe route (which starts in Malaga).
- Have you ever placed your own geocache?
Yes, I have placed one in Ronda (GC1FEAN) and another at Afloramiento de Peridotitas (GC1C9X8) on the A -397 towards Marbella.
-Do you remember your first Geocache?
- Nobody forgets their first cache because of the adrenaline rush that comes with it. My first was one that no longer exists in the Mirador Forester (in the Sierra de las Nieves).
- What is your favourite type of Geocache?
I personally like mentally challenging caches, the ones where you have to solve the riddle in order to locate its whereabouts. I love a challenge.
- The strangest place you found a cache?
- There have been many; ranging from inside a museum in view of everyone in Helsinki to one that was tucked inside a grave in an old cemetery in Edinburgh.
- Do you have any advice for a new Geocacher?
- Be patient. Geocaching is so exciting that, at first, you want to rush everything. It’s better to take it easy and go slowly in order to learn all the secrets.source surinenglish