• Germany's news in English
 

Treasure hunt takes on modern GPS twist

Published: 01 Apr 2013 12:25 GMT+02:00

It's called “geocaching” and originated in the United States in 2000, when computer consultant David Ulmer decided to test the accuracy of new GPS technology by hiding a target in the woods. He posted the co-ordinates of a black bucket which he left near Portland, Oregon online.

Within three days, two people independently found the bucket using their GPS devices. Ulmer left some prize items inside, including videos, books, some software and a sling shot.

Originally known as the “Great American GPS Stash Hunt,” the practice has grown with the advent of GPS technology on personal devices and has become known as “geocaching” to remove any negative association with the term “stash.”

Now enthusiasts log onto a geocache website to add the co-ordinates of their own containers of hidden treasure.

The "treasure" could be anything from a bottle of beer to a bird house. Those laying the cache leave a log book for finders to record the date and time of their discovery. The status of the treasures is monitored online.

And the hunt is picking up steam in Germany, where there are now more than 280,000 geocaches recorded on the national edition of geocaching.com. While most objects are left by individuals, companies are increasingly getting in on the game, often with the hope of advertising tourist destinations.

"The exciting thing about geocaching is that you can find things all over the place, not just at castles or palaces,“ says Monique Müller, a forest ranger in the Sauener forest, who started laying geochashes four years ago.

Müller encounters many geocache enthusiasts in her line of work. "There are a lot of school classes that come here, but also older people who are looking for the trickier hiding places."

"The geocache community is based on trust," she said. The objects have to be left several meters away from each other and are not allowed to be buried, added Müller.

The first German geocache originated in the north-eastern state of Brandenburg. In October 2000 a biscuit tin was buried at Königs Wusterhausen, south of Berlin. There are some 9000 caches in Brandenburg and around 3000 in Berlin.

"I think geocaching is the perfect way to get to know an area; for example I found a secret bathing place" says 22 year-old Thekla Noack, who discovered her passion for geocaching while spending a year volunteering at the August Bier foundation. She hides most of her caches around trees.

Lutz Weichelt offers safari tours around Brandenburg and leaves bottles of brandy and champagne for his groups to find. "It would be too difficult for my groups otherwise," he says, adding "After all, it’s supposed to be fun."

Geocaching is not always as easy as it seems. GPS is not entirely accurate and bad weather and poor terrain can make the search difficult.

"It’s a science of its own," says Noack. "But it allows you to discover things that hikers would simply pass by."

DPA/The Local/kkf

Related links:

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Poland bridles at German minimum wage
Photo: DPA

Poland bridles at German minimum wage

Germany's newly-introduced €8.50 minimum wage is raising hackles at Polish trucking companies, who say they shouldn't have to pay their drivers at that rate for the hours they spend on their western neighbour's roads. READ  

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire
A man photographs an appeal for witnesses in the death of Christin R. in 2012. Photo: DPA

Life sentences meted out in murder-for-hire

A Berlin judge on Thursday sentenced four people to life sentences in a sordid conspiracy murder case in which a pizza delivery driver was paid €500 to kill a young woman for her life insurance. READ  

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million
Men at work. Photo: DPA

Jobless numbers rise to top 3 million

German jobless numbers rose this month, bringing unemployment up to seven percent, the Federal Labour Agency (BA) reported on Thursday. READ  

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links
Security checks at Frankfurt airport. Photo: DPA

Frankfurt man loses airport job over Isis links

In a decision announced on Wednesday, a Frankfurt court upheld the dismissal of a man from his job at Frankfurt airport over his close friendship with a foreign citizen with ties to terrorist group Isis. READ  

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float
Image courtesy Festkomittee Kölner Karneval

Cologne Karneval scraps Charlie Hebdo float

Cologne's planned Charlie Hebdo float in its Rosenmontag parade was a false start, after the organising committee scrapped its construction over security concerns. READ  

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring
File photo: DPA

Overnight raids bust up smugglers ring

Federal police arrested 12 people on Wednesday night after a national raid by police broke apart a smuggling ring. READ  

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties
Former Pegida spokesperson Kathrin Oertel and Brandenburg head of AfD Alexander Gauland. Photo: DPA

Anti-euro AfD split over Pegida ties

Germany's upstart anti-euro AfD party will seek to mend a rift among members on whether to forge close ties with an emergent "anti-Islamisation" movement at a congress this weekend. READ  

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers
Photo: DPA

Court grants kids right to know donor fathers

The Supreme Court (BGH) decided on Wednesday that the children of sperm donors have a right to know who their biological father is at any time. READ  

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal
Russian President Vladimir Putin. Photo: DPA

Russia may declare 1990 reunification illegal

More than 25 years after the Berlin Wall's fall, Russian lawmakers are mulling a proposal to condemn West Germany's 1990 "annexation" of East Germany as Moscow's answer to Western denunciation of its seizure of Crimea. READ  

No room for scooters on the bus: Court
Photo: DPA

No room for scooters on the bus: Court

A court in North-Rhine Westphalia found on Wednesday that there is no obligation for buses or trains to make room for mobility scooters - and that it's actually dangerous to bring them aboard. READ  

RECEIVE OUR NEWSLETTER AND ALERTS
Business & Money
FATCA: 'The age of financial privacy is over'
Gallery
The best regional foods TTIP opponents want to protect
Photo: DPA
Features
The rise and spread of Pegida
Photo: Shutterstock
Culture
This cosplayer did not think his plan through
National
Europe in statistics - from Spain to Sweden
Photo: DPA
Politics
The Local's report from Pegida's largest ever demonstration.
Sponsored Article
Top-notch tech boosts bilingual schools
National
Six stories that will rock Germany this year
Photo: DPA
National
Terror alert at a new high. Should you be worried?
Dresden skyline and river by night. Photo: DPA
Politics
What does Dresden have against Muslims?
Photo: DPA
National
What were your favourite news stories of 2014?
Gallery
Top 12 German idioms
National
Why has The Local got a new logo?
Photo: DPA
National
This German was abducted and tortured by the CIA
Culture
10 top tips for partying in Germany
Photo: DPA
Technology
What does the Chancellor see as the future of the internet?
Photo: DPA
Berlin
The Local's series on 25 years since the fall of the Berlin Wall
Photo: DPA
Business & Money
JobTalk: All you need to know about working in Germany
National
Share news tips with The Local Germany
Latest news from The Local in Austria

More news from Austria at thelocal.at

Latest news from The Local in Switzerland

More news from Switzerland at thelocal.ch

Latest news from The Local in Denmark

More news from Denmark at thelocal.dk

Latest news from The Local in Spain

More news from Spain at thelocal.es

Latest news from The Local in France

More news from France at thelocal.fr

Latest news from The Local in Italy

More news from Italy at thelocal.it

Latest news from The Local in Norway

More news from Norway at thelocal.no

Latest news from The Local in Sweden

More news from Sweden at thelocal.se

3,451
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd