Geocaching without a GPS

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Introduction

I do not own a GPS receiver, and having to purchase a GPS receiver was what kept me out of geocaching for the longest time. I’ve known about geocaching for a long time now, and I knew instantly that I would love it - the whole treasure hunt, solving clues and puzzles, using the GPS - but I told myself that I would hold off it till the day I bought my GPSr. A chance encounter with a geocaching blog changed all that. I said, heck with the GPS, let’s give geocaching a try just with Google Earth, and I found my first cache! There was no turning back.

Using Google Earth

Google has just recently updated the maps of Singapore to include street maps as well. We certainly have one of the most detailed road and satellite maps of any city in the world. With these maps, it is possible to locate a cache just with visual references! In fact, it can sometimes be more fun because there are additional challenges to finding the cache. You will have to research your cache to make sure that there are enough visual clues to help you find the cache. You will have to use your imagination because some of the maps are up to 3 years old and the ground environment might have changed. You will have to guess at geocaching spots because the GPS listing on GoogleMaps is not exactly accurate - they might be up to 20 or 30 meters off! With all these additional factors, an easy cache may be a whole lot more difficult, and entertaining, depending on how you look at it!

Caveats

Of course, using GoogleEarth means that you cannot locate caches that are in the middle of a forest, where visual references are impossible (how do you tell this tree from another?!). You will also have to rely more on the additional hints and even old log entries to gather as much information as possible about the cache hiding spot, as the cross on your map may not be accurate. You will also have to print out the map, an action that wastes paper and expensive ink. Sometimes, I study a map and note the visual clues I need to find the cache, and just draw the relevent landmarks on a piece of paper instead.

Multicaches

Multicaches can even be possible without a GPS. What I do is to print the map with the grid reference enabled in Google Earth. I select multicaches that have a good chance of being within a certain small area, such as in a park, and print the map of the park with the grid. When I find a waypoint clue with the coordinates for the cache, I simply reference the coordinates to see which grid on the map the cache is in. You may have to do some minutes to seconds conversions but its a minor annoyance.

Conclusion

All in all, what I’ll say is don’t wait any longer! There are many many caches in Singapore that are doable without the use of a GPS unit. I have a list of geocaches that I’ve personally located without the use of a GPS. You can pick one from there, or locate one in your area. Come join in the fun of geocaching! Give it a try, there’s no reason to wait!

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