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Geocaching in Niagara

image001Geocaching is a form of high-tech treasure hunting that takes place all over the world. Armed with little more than a smartphone or GPS device, good shoes, weather-appropriate clothing, and the GPS coordinates that will get you to a specific cache, geocaching is an activity that almost anyone can participate in, and for visitors enjoying the Niagara area, it’s one more unique way to experience the region.

Canada ranks third out of the hundreds of countries and millions of people participating in geocaching around the world, so you may even run into fellow geocachers when you’re out and about hunting for a cache.

How to Play

To get involved, all you need to do is register for a free geocaching account at geocaching.com. A premium membership will afford you more features and opportunities, but a free account will suffice. (There are also a few other sites where you can find out about caches, including opencaching.com and Earthcache.org.)

Then, head to the Hide and Find a Cache page, or download a geocache app to your tablet or smartphone to seek out a cache to hunt in the Niagara Falls area. Select any cache listed and click on its name. Either enter the cache’s coordinates into your GPS device or locate the cache on your app’s map.

Follow the map or GPS device to the general vicinity where the cache is hidden. Using the clues provided by the person who hid the cache and others who have found it and left comments, find the hidden cache.

Once you find it, sign the logbook that’s provided, and be careful to return the geocache to its original location. After you’re through, share your experience and photos online with the rest of the geocaching community.

Tips For Play

image003In many ways, geocaching is a very straightforward bit of fun, but there are still some tips that may enable you and whomever you’re geocaching with to have a better time. When you’re hunting a cache, keep in mind the following:

  • Geocaches can be hard to find. Some hiders take great pride in making a cache hard to spot. If you’re having trouble finding a cache, don’t give up! Read through comments for clues and be creative about looking. GPS coordinates generally get you within at least 30 feet of a cache, so some will really require you to give some noble effort.
  • There’s lingo. From muggles to crazy acronyms like BYOP (Bring your own pencil.) and TNLNSL (Took nothing. Left nothing. Signed logbook.), you’ll need to brush up on the language used by geocachers in order to decipher their online hints and clues. Here’s a glossary to help out.
  • Sometimes there’s a trade involved. Some of the geocaches are large enough to include items to trade in and out, so be sure to bring along a few worthy items to trade out and leave for others to find after you’ve returned the cache.

Geocaching can provide a wealth of fun anywhere in the world, but set against the backdrop of Niagara Falls, it’s especially exciting. For a vacation activity that will give you a unique experience of the Niagara Peninsula, plan an afternoon around the coordinates on a GPS device, and go treasure hunting in Niagara.

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