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Celebrating Geocaching’s Sweet 16!

Today, May 2nd, marks the 16th anniversary of the geocaching phenomenon. As we reminisce on all the wonderful geocaching moments we’ve experienced over the years, it’s fun to journey back to the year 2000 to see how it all began.

A Look Back in Time

The year was 2000. Y2K had come and gone. A dozen eggs cost 89 cents. “Survivor” was in its first season. The Summer Olympics were held in Sydney. Traditional outdoor activities at the time included hiking, bird watching, and camping. But then everything changed.

The Big Blue Switch

On May 2nd at approximately midnight, the “big blue switch” was pressed and selective availability on civilian GPS receivers was removed. Twenty-four satellites around the globe processed new orders, and the accuracy of GPS technology improved tenfold. Prior to this date, only the military had the ability to receive accurate GPS readings. Now, the world and all its wonderful people could pinpoint their precise location.

The First Geocache Hide

In celebration with this new-found freedom in global navigation, a computer consultant named Dave Ulmer started The Great American GPS Stash Hunt. The idea was simple: hide a container out in the woods and record the coordinates using  a GPS unit. On May 3rd, he placed a black bucket in the woods near Beavercreek, Oregon along with a logbook, pencil, and other various trade items – the first geocache. He shared the coordinates of his “stash” with an online community on sci.geo.satellite-nav and the “game” took off.

Dave Ulmer and the Original Stash
Dave Ulmer and the Original Stash

Geocaching.com

For the first few months, the stash game was played mostly by experienced GPS users who already used the technology for outdoor activities. Mike Teague, the first person to find Ulmer’s stash, began to gather other users’ posted coordinates and document them on his personal website.

Jeremy Irish, Founder of Geocaching.com, stumbled upon Teague’s site while researching GPS technology and was intrigued by the idea. He purchased a GPS device and went out on his first geocaching adventure that weekend. After an enjoyable experience, Irish decided to start a website for the activity. Adopting the newly dubbed term “geocaching” and putting his web skills to good use, he launched Geocaching.com with only 75 geocaches.

From right to left: Founders Bryan, Jeremy, and Elias
From left to right: Founders Bryan, Jeremy, and Elias

Historic Dates

March 24, 2001: The first Geocaching Event takes place in Austin, Texas.

The first geocaching event
The first geocaching event

August 30, 2001: The first Travel Bug® is released by Jeremy. TB1 is a rubber ducky named “Deadly Duck: Envy.” Fun fact: The image on the Deadly Duck’s Trackable page is Photoshopped to replicate this mug shot of a famous Seattle-area entrepreneur and philanthropist in his younger, “wilder” days.

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September 20, 2001: Moun10Bike places the second Geocoin in a cache near Deception Pass, Washington. He keeps the first Geocoin in his personal collection. Watch him tell his story.

The First Geocoin
The first Geocoin

April 26, 2003: The first CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) is held outside of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania.

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First CITO crew

January 10, 2004: The first EarthCache is published in  Australia.

First EarthCache
First EarthCache

May 27, 2006: The first Mega-Event, GeoWoodstock 4, takes place in Texas.

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October 14, 2008: The first geocache hidden in space is published.

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First geocache in space is hidden in locker 218 on the ISS

March 8, 2010: Geocaching.com reaches 1 million active geocache listings.

February 26, 2013: Geocaching.com reaches 2 million active geocache listings.

 

Sixteen Years Later

Sixteen years and over 2.8 million geocaches later, the game is larger and more diverse than it’s ever been. Happy birthday geocaching! It’s been a pleasure watching you grow.

 

How do you think geocaching will change in the next 16 years?

 

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Valentine’s Day Special: 11 Romantic Geocache Locations

Do you like candlelight dinners, soul-lifting conversations, and long walks on the beach with a little geocaching in between? If yes, then these romantic geocache locations were made just for you and your honey. Escape to the colorful beaches in Bali or explore the narrow streets of enchanting Casablanca, just in time for Valentine’s day.

1. TidesChallenge Cache — Bali, Indonesia
Geocache Type: Traditional

Bali is often associated with the word “love” and it’s evident when you visit why this word fits perfectly. The beaches are picturesque and the atmosphere is relaxing, all things that one would “love.” This geocache is placed in a sea cave  only accessible during low tide, adding a little adventure to your romance.

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2. Juliet’s Balcony — Verona, Italy
Geocache Type: Traditional

O Romeo, Romeo, wherefore art thou Romeo? Travelers (and geocachers) from around the world come to Verona, Italy to catch a glimpse of the balcony where Juliet might have called out for her Romeo. Visitors will stand by the statue of Juliet and proclaim their love by adding a lock (hint hint) to the nearby fence.

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3. Twilight — Forks, Washington
Geocache Type: Multi-Cache

If you’re someone who swoons over the word “vampire,” this cache is calling your name. Indulge a bit and experience the ultimate Twilight fantasy by journeying to the place where Edward and Bella met. This Multi-Cache leads geocachers to all the famous book locations.

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4. I ♥ Paris — Paris, France
Geocache Type: Wherigo

Nothing is more magical than a stroll through the streets of Paris, peacefully gazing up at the Eiffel Tower as you roam. Experience the entire city to its fullest through this fun Wherigo geocache.

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5. N Seoul Tower : Tree of Love Locks — Seoul, South Korea
Geocache Type: Traditional

If you love someone, lock them down. There are many ‘love lock’ locations around the world. This one wins quirkiest. Couples from around the world sketch their names on padlocks and latch them to one of the trees near the N Seoul Tower. The geocache that’s hidden there blends in  almost too well.

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6. Eternity in Casablanca — Casablanca, Morocco
Geocache Type: Mystery

Here’s looking at you, kid. Casablanca is known for its beautiful mosques, colorful buildings, covered markets, and historic sites. Enjoy getting lost in it all with your significant other.

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7. Dirty Dancing  — Asheville, North Carolina
Geocache Type: Traditional

We all remember Baby from Dirty Dancing. She spent her summer at a family camp, met a handsome boy, learned to dance, and then lived happily ever after. This geocache is placed at the film location, which is beautiful and remote. Feel free to recreate the famous dance scene with your partner if you feel up to it!

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8. Mount Aorai (2066m) — Tahiti, French Polynesia
Geocache Type: Traditional

Get away from it all. This geocache is perfect for the adventurous honeymooners. It’s hidden at the very top of the one of Tahiti’s highest summits. Although the hike can be strenuous at times, the views are stunning at the end.

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9. Brugge : Belle Lettere — Bruges, Belgium
Geocache Type: Multi-Cache

Fairytale Bruges enchants visitors from all over the world, and the delicious Belgium chocolate keeps them coming back for more. The city’s open squares, charming houses, and cobblestone streets creates a romantic atmosphere. Take a boat ride through the picturesque canals and then find this Multi-Cache to cap off the trip.

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10. Milford Sound — South Island, New Zealand
Geocache Type: EarthCache

A cruise through the Milford Sound to nab this EarthCache should be on everyone’s bucket lists. Waterfalls, mountains, and wildlife make for the perfect lovey-dovey escape.

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11. Love Lock — Buenos Aires, Argentina
Geocache Type: Traditional

It’s easy to get swept away by Buenos Aires’ vibrant nightlife and fun culture. Spend your nights drinking delicious wine at fun tango bars and spend your days exploring the city, finding geocaches like this heartfelt love lock cache.

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What’s the most romantic place you’ve discovered through geocaching?

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Geocaching in 2015: A Year in Review

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2015 was an epic year in the world of geocaching. 

There were many laughs, plenty of new geocaches hidden, and a lot of “Found it” logs.  As we start to plan for the new year ahead,  it’s fun to reflect on many of the amazing things that happened in 2015. Here are 15 of them.

 

1) We celebrated 15 years of geocaching!

It’s hard to believe that the hobby we all love celebrated its 15th birthday this year. During this time of nostalgia, it’s fun to look back at some of the most historic moments in geocaching history.

2) A year of events. Great events.

  • 2 Giga-Events (5,000+ geocachers)
  • 45 Mega-Events (500+ geocachers)
  • Over 28,000 geocaching events total

It’s evident from all the fun gatherings that took place that geocachers enjoyed making new friends and spending time with the old at an average of over 76 geocaching events per day!  

  • A group of kiddos search for the code word at the last ever Geocaching Block Party Mega-Event in Seattle.

3) A group of courageous geocachers journeyed to the center of the earth to log an EarthCache. Well, sort of.

Need more laughs? Check out all the past geocaching April Fools videos:

4) The geocaching community grew.

In December, the 15 millionth geocaching account was created on Geocaching.com. Considering that many geocaching accounts represent families, couples, teams, and other groups, there are well more than 15 million geocachers worldwide.

  • Geocaching in Cambodia.

5) The game’s 453 community volunteers made the game better for everyone through their contributions as reviewers, moderators, and translators.

6) Geocachers joined in the global CITO (Cache In, Trash Out) movement and gave back to our lovely planet.

Over 19,000 geocachers collected garbage, restored natural areas, and worked on community improvement projects during CITO weekend in April. If each person picked up one 5 lb (2.26 kg) bag of trash, that’s over 40 metric tons of garbage collected. That’s (approximately) 7.4 elephants, or 7 elephants and two cows. This impressive number does not include the hundreds of additional CITO events that took place throughout the rest of year.

7) 4 incredible trackable branded promotions took place, including the super cute Mountain Warehouse promo.

With nearly 500 photos entered into the Mountain Warehouse photo contest, geocachers showed clever photography skills while shooting Meryl Sheep trackable tags all over the British countryside and beyond. One particular trackable, Wooliam the Sheep, has already traveled 32,000+ miles (51,499 km).

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8) GeoTours expanded.

19 new GeoTours were launched this year, bringing the GeoTour grand total at 61 tours worldwide. The average number of geocaches per tour is 44, and their geocaches tend to have more favorite points than the average geocache.

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9) Over 52,000 geocachers around the world went on a Geocaching Road Trip.

During the summer months, geocachers had the opportunity to complete five geocaching quests, each of which earned them a special souvenir for their geocaching profile. By completing all missions, they earned an extra special 6th souvenir. The theme was “Geocaching Road Trip”, and the adventures were epic.

10) Geocachers celebrated Pi. And puzzles. And ate pie.

While some folks celebrated Pi Day on March 14 (3.14) with a slice of pi pie, we celebrated this year’s Pi Day with two new souvenirs…and pie. The first souvenir was earned by 37,000 geocachers who attended an event on that day. The second souvenir celebrated the mystery of pi—to earn it, geocachers had to log a “Found It” on a Mystery Cache. Kudos to the 50,000 geocachers who took on that head scratching challenge.

  • Yummy geocaching events all day long!

11) Five new countries received their own geocaching souvenirs.

Time to update your bucket lists, geocachers. Cheers to Thailand, Turkey, Estonia, Lithuania, and Slovenia who were added to the growing list of country souvenirs this year!

  • Thailand Souvenir.

12) New features were added to make your geocaching world a bit better.

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13) Geocachers watched 16 creative geocaching films at GIFF Weekend.

The GIFF (Geocaching International Film Festival) Weekend 2015 souvenir was awarded to over 14,000 geocachers who attended 449 GIFF events in 46 countries. That’s amazing. But what’s even more amazing is the sheer number of special and wonderful moments that happened at all the movie nights.

14) Geocaching.com added new languages.

The Geocaching.com website is now translated into 22 different languages including English. The iPhone and Android Free apps are also available in 19 different languages. More to come!

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15) There were over 83,000,000 logged geocaches and over 588,000 new geocaches published this year.

Great job, geocachers. Great job.

  • Warm waters & lots of signatures.

From all of us at Geocaching HQ, thank you for making this year the best geocaching year to date.

 

What was your favorite geocaching moment from 2015?

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A Guide to Geocaching in Thailand

Colorful is one word that perfectly sums up this unique and beautiful Southeast Asian country. Elephants and noodle soups, white-sand beaches and blue waters, Buddhist temples and ancient ruins, Thailand captivates the hearts of visitors from all corners of the world and leaves everyone with everlasting “Thai smiles” glued to their faces.

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Like attending a Muay Thai boxing match, geocaching has joined the list of fun activities to participate in while in Thailand. There are currently over 1,300 active geocaches hidden throughout the country, all waiting to be discovered by visitors and locals alike. And to make things more exciting, *Thailand is the newest country to receive a Geocaching souvenir!

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Although we all wish we could jump on a plane and head there now, this list of 5 amazing geocaches will have to do the trick. Enjoy!

 

1. GC2JDFG — Grand Palace
Cache Owner: JamieZel
Type: Traditional
D/T Rating: 1.5/1.5

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There’s no place quite like the sprawling and bustling city of Bangkok. Golden Buddhist temples collide with large megamalls festooned with bright neon lights. And there’s no city quite as hot. Bangkok has an annual mean air temperature of 28°C. When geocaching, dress for the intense humidity and be on the lookout for muggles. This traditional cache was placed near the ornate Grand Palace which is a must-see attraction in the city. Afterwards, eat your heart out at any local food stand, as the street cuisine in Bangkok is phenomenal.

Be on the lookout for Siamese kitties as you wander the streets. They are native to Thailand.

 

2. GC24XKT — Ko Phi Phi Lee – (Mu Koh Phi Phi National Park)
Cache Owner: Calico-Jack
Type: EarthCache
D/T rating: 3.5/1.5

Thebeach

What’s a trip to Thailand without visiting the insanely famous island of Ko Phi Phi? This island served as the backdrop to the 2000 cult classic “The Beach” starring Leonardo DiCaprio. Although  the island is no longer uninhabited as it was in the film, it’s still just as breathtaking.

 

3. GC5G9N0 — Up and down! (Railay Lagoon)
Cache Owner: ChrisA33 & Damonstah
Type: Traditional
D/T Rating: 3/4.5

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Rumor has it that the best cache in all of Thailand is located in the rock climbing paradise island of Railay. If they attempt it, geocachers are sent on an exciting and challenging adventure to a hidden blue lagoon. It’s no easy task, though. Bring good hiking boots and a friend you can lean on (literally).

 

4. GC932A — Thailand’s Highest Point
Cache Owner: Steve (Licorice)
Type: Virtual
D/T rating: 1/1

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Thailand is home to some incredible mountainous regions. If you head up north towards Chiang Mai, also known as the “Rose of the North”, you’ll encounter these areas, all of which have been transformed into National Parks. This virtual cache is the location of Thailand’s highest point and the views are breathtaking. After exploring the area, spend some time wandering through the night markets and delicious restaurants in Chiang Mai.

 

5. GC48FEJ — Wat Mahathat
Cache Owner: thorshammers
Type: Traditional
D/T rating: 1.5/1.5

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Located about five hours north of Bangkok, Sukhothai was the first ancient capital of Thailand (known as Kingdom of Siam at the time) from 1238 to 1438. The Sukhothai Historical Park is now a great place to explore. There are several geocaches hidden throughout the park including this well-placed micro. If time allows, explore some of the local rice fields. Thailand is the largest exporter of rice in the world!

 

*Thailand is the fifth and final Geocaching country souvenir to be released this year! Souvenirs are virtual pieces of art that are displayed on your Geocaching profile page when you find a geocache in certain locations. A list of of currently available Geocaching souvenirs and even the ones you’ve already earned can be found on Geocaching.com. And, if you’ve already found a geocache in Thailand, we will retroactively add this souvenir to your profile in December 2015.

Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or right here on our Blog to find out out more.

What geocaches are on your Thailand geocaching trip bucket list?