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What Is Opencaching?

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  • Written By: Ken Black
  • Edited By: C. Wilborn
  • Last Modified Date: 16 December 2014
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Opencaching is a term for geocaching that is used mainly by those in Europe. It refers specifically to websites and services that offer a free and open portal for all of those who are interested in the activity, or sport, of geocaching. Geocaching is the term applied to the practice of hiding and finding logs or even small items using a GPS system. Opencaching has several websites that are specific to different European countries, plus a site that indexes and provides links to these various country website locations.

European countries with opencaching websites include Germany, Sweden, Poland, and the United Kingdom. Some countries may have competing sites that list other geocaches as well, but there could be fees associated with those sites. As the hobby continues to grow, it's likely that such sites will be available in more locations.

The main difference between opencaching and more traditional geocaching is that all services are open to the public in opencaching at no cost. Generally, most geocaching services or websites offer some basic information for free, but users may have to pay for premium information. This is not the case with opencaching; every geocache is listed and accessible to everyone.

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In many cases, those who register can do so for no charge, and there are often additional benefits included in registering. One of the main benefits is that registrants can post geocaches of their own and advertise their locations to others. Those who have placed geocaches are responsible for maintaining them and taking care of any issues that may arise. Another benefit to registering is that users are able to log all their finds in one specific location.

Despite the advantages of the opencaching system, participants will still need to invest at least some amount of money in the hobby. The websites may provide coordinates to geocache locations, but can do very little to actually help you find it without a handheld GPS system. Basic systems are relatively inexpensive, but additional features will raise the price. Some cell phones also work as GPS devices.

To get on the opencaching websites, you will also need a personal computer or web-enabled phone in many cases. Some GPS systems may also link directly to such sites via satellites for easy and convenient access. These devices are at the higher end of the GPS market, however, and may not be the most appropriate choice for those just starting out in the hobby.

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Jacques6
Post 4

@Almita - Lucky me, I already own a Blackberry phone. I'll have to see if it's GPS enabled though, since it's an older model. Thanks.

You said in your first post that you bring little toys along -- I do too. I take a couple of bucks to either the store of a quarter machine and grab a few small things.

Rings and little rubber sticky-ball toys are my favorites. I used to think that I had to bring bigger toys but anything can be a treasure when you find it in a geocache. Little polished rocks are also fun.

Almita
Post 3

@Jacques - I found several supposedly free geocaching websites, but after you sign up -- you have to pay for each geocache location and you only get a week of browsing before you have to pay. It's not horrible, but free would definitely be better.

As for my phone, I use a Blackberry Curve with GeocacheNavigator on it. It's a funny little program that's supposed to make GPS easier. It works alright. When I upgraded awhile ago, I carefully picked one that had GPS on it since we wanted to start geocaching. A lot of the Blackberry phones are GPS enabled, so you will have a few choices.

Jacques6
Post 2

@Almita - Opencaching would be a good idea too, since it's free. But if you don't live in Europe, it's very hard to find places that offer geocache locations for free. Try browsing around online a little more – good free websites exist.

I had to buy a GPS device, so I got a pretty cheap one. It works alright but I was curious what type of phone you have? I need to upgrade my phone so I thought I might get one that has GPS built in. I do geocaching all the time on the weekends so it would be a good investment.

Almita
Post 1

I do geocaching whenever I go on vacation. It gives the kids something to do and my phone has a built in GPS. I like hiking and going on walks anyways, so we just find a geocache and starting heading to it.

We've found about five geocaches so far and two of them had little toys in them. I always bring a long a couple of small things to put in the caches -- the kids get so excited when they find something, I figured I'd return the favor.

I did have to pay a subscription to get the locations of the geochaches -- but it wasn't too expensive.

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