North East Iowa is a fabulous place to enjoy the great outdoors. Hiking, camping, canoeing and horse riding have all been popular pastimes in this glorious location for many years; but now there's a new kid on the block of outdoor activities. This particular leisure activity can be enjoyed by the whole family, all year round. It gets you out into the countryside, involves exercise, exploration of beautiful landscapes and historic sites, requires an amount of brainpower and is brilliant fun. Welcome to the world of geocaching!
How does geocaching work?
The geocacher (as devotees of this activity are known) visits a location which is usually somewhere especially scenic, of historical interest or may just be a personal favourite place to visit. At the chosen location, they will secrete a small, waterproof container in which are placed a few bits and bobs of little value together with a logbook and a pen.
The geocacher then uses their GPS receiver to record the co-ordinates of their cache. Upon returning home, they log the cache on the geocaching official website. Subsequently, another geocacher will see the listing on the site, punch the co-ordinates into their GPS receiver and the treasure hunt begins! When the seeker finds the cache, they may remove something from it and leave an item in exchange, before making an entry in the logbook for the next person to find. On returning home, the finder will make a note on the website that they have found the cache along with any pertinent comments they may wish to add.
So, basically it's a grown up game of Treasure Hunt with a modern technological twist.
What you'll need to play the game
Essentially, you need a GPS receiver, a sense of adventure and internet access. A basic GPS receiver can be purchased for around £80. The GPS is a bit like a SatNav system in your car. It picks up satellite signals and uses them to calculate its location; you then enter the co-ordinates of the cache you're looking for and it gives you directions. .
All geocaches are listed on the main 'caching' website; www.geocaching.com and this is where you need to go to get information about caches in North East Iowa and their locations, many of which are set in spectacular and beautiful wild lands teeming with wildlife. You could also check out the following region specific websites with information about geocaching groups and locations in Iowa; www.iowageocachers.org, www.iowadnr.gov/Recreation/CampingFacilityRentals/.../Geocaching.asp, www.traillink.com/stateactivity/ia-geocaching-trails