Massive geocaching event planned for Bfn

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Chemaly with a geocache. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Geocaching is a worldwide recreational activity enjoyed by millions, including a committed community in Bloemfontein.

According to the Chairperson of Geocachers of South Africa, Richard Chemaly, “geocaching is hiding log sheets in creative ways, either in forests or in urban areas, and then using GPS technology to find them, or for other people to find them.”

The game has been around since May 2000, with the first cache placed in South Africa in January 2001 in Cape Town. This cache, which was also the first in Africa, exists to this day.

He explained that finding caches can be as simple as following coordinates and seeing the cache immediately, while others will have geocachers solving puzzles, or riddles, and even having to traverse rough terrains to find more difficult caches.

Some intricate geocaches comprise of seemingly unsolvable puzzles. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
A very intricate puzzle geocache holding a logbook. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“You have a difficulty rating from 1 to 5 and a terrain rating from 1 to 5,” explained Chemaly. “Terrain means it’s either a big hike, or some of them are nasty climbs,” he added. “Sometimes you have to get rope or something. Other times, with the difficulty, you’ll have a situation where it can be right in front of you, you can see the geocache, but to extract the log sheet is a near impossibility.”

An example of a puzzle cache. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

The pinnacle of difficulty in geocaching is a 5 difficulty rating, and 5 terrain rating, of which there is one in Bloemfontein, and 34 across South Africa. Chemaly has found 3 “Five-Fives”, and over 2000 total caches.

The top geocacher in South Africa is a retired couple known to the community as iPajero, with 21 719 worldwide finds.

“Bloemfontein has a history of geocaching in the international world,” said Chemaly, speaking about the late local legend Oom Louwtjie. “He moved to Bloem and placed some of the most amazing geocaches, really fun hides, difficult hides,” he said.

Chemaly with geocaching legend, Oom Louwtjie. PHOTO: SUPPLIED

Apart from Oom Louwtjie’s international reputation, Bloemfontein has also served as a spot for 24-hour ‘Le Mans’ searches, where teams find every cache in the city within 24 hours.

On 10 August, at 07:00, 100 new caches, placed in and around Bloemfontein by Chemaly and a few helpers, will go live, which will almost double the 150 existing local caches.

Chemaly is hoping to increase the number of geocachers in the city, when the number of geocaches increases next month.

 

Warren Hawkins

warren@mahareng.co.za