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Geocaching: In search of the hidden caches

Updated on September 22, 2016

The Geochaching is a hobby and a sport outdoors. It uses a GPS with a mission to find a cache hidden by someone in a particular location. Emerged in 2000 in the United States of America. Today is active in 221 countries. In Madeira island, Portugal, arrived in 2004. About 150 locals practice regularly in search of caches hidden in 233 in Madeira and 4 in Porto Santo.

Luís ­Freitas in one beautiful geocache near Ponta do Pargo
Luís ­Freitas in one beautiful geocache near Ponta do Pargo


Geochaching. For most people, will be certainly be an unknown thing. But hundred and hundred people in the world, isn’t unknow, because they practice regularly the hobby and outdoor sport where you use a satellite navigation receiver, the GPS, common that we have in our cars. The mission is practical: to find a geocache, or just cache, previously hidden.
A typical cache is a small box, type tupperware, in plastic, sealed and waterproof. Contains a log book and objects such as pens, pencil sharpener, or other for exchanges.

Begin in May 2000

All started in May 2000, when the GPS signal has been democratized.
On May 1st was the "freedom" of the GPS and the third of this month, the American Dave Ulmer proceeds to the first placement of a cache with the help of GPS. The location was announced in the newsgroup sci.geo.satellite-nav, and three days later was found twice and logged once.
Then it was replicating itself.
A growth that led to that at the end of 2009, already had about 950,000 active geocaches in 221 countries. In December the following year, were already more than 1.2 million active caches in 221 countries.
The April 17, 2011 there were more than 1.3 million active caches. More than 11,000 in Portugal.

The world website

For some time now that the Geochaching has an official website where the practitioner (who call themselves geocacher) is registered and where you place the geographical coordinates of hidden caches. Or simply want to find the ones that put the coordinates in the GPS and go in search of hidden caches.
Later, after you found, you should register the geocache on the same site.
However, there are other pages dedicated to the game. Even in the Madeira Autonomous Region, Madeira Geocaching ( and a dedicated page on facebook.

Madeira island

In Madeira, the worldwide phenomenon came in 2004.
Ruben Luis Freitas, a Madeiran who practices regularly geocaching, has already found a good part of the 237 registered caches to exist in any hidden location of Madeira and Porto Santo. He himself has hidden 47.
The Porto Santo island has four caches hidden, as found by the geocacher with whom I spoke.
The first cache hidden in Madeira island is called "Vaca" (Cow) and was placed in the area of ​​Paúl da Serra is February 14, 2004 by geocacher "macmurphy," one foreign resident in Calheta. The cache already has 775 hits.
He said that another foreigner that greatly boosted activity on the island called "cod", a German who lives in Caniço.
The cache most visited in the Madeira island is called "Zona Velha". Was placed on November 4, 2008. It has 1,220 hits.
The smallest cache is hidden in the heart of Funchal, in the building of the Regional Government. With the size of a finger. Beyond the standard caches have there all that is needed.
The largest hidden cache found is in the Curral dos Rumeiros, in Funchal. The size of a storage box of 50 liters and is called "The Challenge". Despite its size, has a high degree of difficulty to find out.
For the most central area of ​​the capital of the island there are caches hidden sources in the south of the Palácio de São Lourenço, in Quinta Vigia and in fortaleza do Pico.
In the background, beyond the pleasure of your practice, Luís Freitas said that geocaching has allowed him to visit places of Madeira and Porto Santo you never thought existed. This is because there are caches all over the island.

Tourism potential

He admits that the geocahing has great potential and could attract more tourists who come looking for caches. Already has found some looking for caches.
Geocaching is a growth phase in Madeira. Every day they have more compliant.
Anyone can hide a cache, provided it is done following the standard rules, as the minimum distance of 160 meters between caches and do not put them under water.
Regarding the type of boxes to be used, says it is very variable, and should only obey the rules to be watertight and have within them the essential items.
In addition, a key factor, to be registered on the international site, which is free, and leave it there all the coordinates.

Exchange objects

In geocaching there is also the exchange of objects.
Activities that have specific names: travelbugs and Geocoins, who travel from cache to cache certain objectives
The travelbug is a small metal plate with a six-digit code (tracking number) that allows the progression of an item (clutching a travelbug), cache cache, is logged and monitored on the site
The geocoin as a travel bug is a special item of trade. Each geocoin is a six-digit code (tracking number) that allows the progression of it, cache cache, is logged and monitored on the site
The items are designed to Geocoins travel between caches, and not to be taken as the remaining items of exchange, unless this is specified.
In essence, there are several types of caches, and in case of Madeira are the most "traditional caches."
Then there were still the "multi-caches", "Mystery" or Puzzle Caches" and "EarthCache".


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