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   Inside Out - South: Monday 13th January, 2003

GEOCACHING

Chris Packham with a geocache and GPS
Treasure found | Chris Packham finds a hoard of hidden goodies thanks to his trusty GPS

Fancy going on a treasure hunt? Well geocaching may just be for you - it's the latest hi-tech craze to sweep the country.

Finding hidden treasure is a dream for many people. Now it's becoming a reality for some. But before you get too excited the "treasure" you'll find through geocaching is usually just small trinkets, and to play the game properly you've got to leave behind some treasure of your own for others to find.

Geocaching has taken off thanks to two recent technologies; the web and Global Positioning Systems (GPS). People hide their treasure chests (often army surplus ammunition boxes) then share the location of these on the internet via sites like www.geocaching.com.

handheld GPS unit
A handheld GPs unit | Tap in where the treasure is and this handy unit will show you the way

The directions to this hidden hoard are given in map co-ordinates and that's where your handy GPs comes in. These miniature devices let you tap in the co-ordinates and then point you in the right direction for you to go off and discover your cache.

Before you think this is all too easy, being guided by satellite to your treasure, realise that once you get to the chosen spot you've then got to find the cache itself.

Geocachers are quite inventive folk and some caches are hidden in nooks and cranies around the urban sprawl.

Others are located halfway up cliffs, submerged underwater or found in other hard-to-reach places.

Caches can come in many forms but should always contain a logbook. It contains notes left by previous cache visitors and the founder of the cache and possibly a few clues to lead you to other caches nearby.

Gulliver the globe trotting bear
Globetrotting bear, Gulliver, prepares to embark on another geocaching adventure.

Larger caches also contain a number of more or less valuable items. These items turn the cache into a true treasure hunt.

Tim and June Prowting have become famous in the Caching world for leaving teddy bears in the Caches they visit. One of their bears, called Gulliver, is now travelling around the world.

Gulliver was placed in a cache near Winchester over a year ago with a plea to those who found him to move him on to another cache.

Now he has his own website where those who find him post photographs and news of his travels. He has tasted the highlife in Japan, been hiking in New Zealand and even got involved in a bar brawl in the USA. You can follow his adventures at www.gulliverbear.co.uk.

Geocaching traces it's history back to May 2000 when the first cache was hidden. Now there's over a thousand caches hidden around England. Caches can also be found all across the globe so if you get bitten by the treasure hunting bug you don't have to stop searching for treasure when you go travelling abroad too.

Inside Out has now set up it's own Geocache so if you want to find what goodies we've tucked away then go to the BBC Southampton site and grab those co-ordinates and get searching.

See also ...

On bbc.co.uk
Geocaching (Southampton)
"How to play hide-and-seek by satellite" (News)
Geocaching (H2G2)

On the rest of the web
"Have Geocache, Will Travel" (Wired News)
www.gulliverbear.co.uk
www.geocaching.com

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