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History of Geocaching in SA

Carbon Hunter

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As a newcomer to GeoCaching. Could some of you "old" ;) teams please pass on a bit of the history of how you remeber GC coming to South Africa.


I'd really like to know about some of the orignal and unique caches - especially if they are still in operation. E.G which is/was the first cache in SA?


Also - some of the original teams and stories.


It would be great to hear.

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I am not sure of the oldest cache owner been active but the second oldest cache in SA been GC1341 still has an active owner. I did a round trip of some 450 km to find it. The cache owner is Hosta whom many of us have met. He is known for riding his bike to some really tough caches. He is quite a character and has some interesting stories to tell. One of his others was also one of the toughest I had to search for at Bivane Dam GC7551.


TVM have also been round for quite a few years.


I would have been in this sport about 4 years ago while still selling GPS units I got an article sent to my mailbox about geocaching from Avnic Trading the importers of the Garmin units. But I never got a GPS at that stage and only when going through old emails a few months ago just after I got my first GPS did I find the article. The day after I went out and found my first cache.

Edited by Wazat
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South Africa's very first cache was GCZA01 (GC163), placed on 14 January 2001, by GPSFrodo who's cache unfortunately didn't last very long, only found by one person :anicute:

The second cache, Sentinel View (GC185) was placed a few days later, and is still going strong.

Then came Eucaliptus (GC1341).


After that, the most caches were placed in the Western Cape, and less often in the other provinces, so that at the end of 2001 we had about thirty active caches all over of which WC had more than 50%.


Pretoria's first Pretoria_East 001: only came in August the next year.

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Which are the oldest caches per province. Here in KZN we have Bloodriver. It has been archived as the original cache was muggled but Batsgonemad was kind enough to put a macro in a better spot. As a matter of interest there is another micro at the site left by I&J but it was never published. They let me know it was on one of the wagons, just can't remember which one. We hope that the cache will be unarchived as this is a great spot. The second oldest cache in KZN is at Balelesberg - Utrecht, these two caches were placed by Chris Smith on the 20 Jun 2002. The third oldest is by hosta at Bivane Dam left on 24 Jul 2002. Oddly enough these three caches are in my area which is not the most active caching area in the country.


So what are the other provinces oldest caches.

Edited by Wazat
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Here are the oldest active caches per province:


- Western Cape GC185 Sentinel View 18 Jan 2001

- Mpumalanga GC1341 Eucaliptus 2 Apr 2001

- Free State GC9ED MADIBA TRAIL Bloemfontein 20 May 2001

- North West GCE74 Magaliesberg 1(Maanhaarrand - North West Province) 30 Jun 2001

- Gauteng GC13FB Pretoria East 001: 29 Jul 2001

- Northern Cape GC2964 R385 Posmansburg (GMC015Z) 21 Nov 2001

- Eastern Cape GC3007 Port Elizabeth - C St Francis 30 Dec 2001

- Limpopo GC573F Yebo Gogo 12 May 2002

- Kwazulu Natal GC6680 Balelesberg - Utrecht 20 Jun 2002

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When I had just started geocaching, I heard a radio broadcast (tagged in the forums) on geocaching by professor Charles Merry (of Sentinel View fame), so he was doing good work to promote the game.

Every now and then he still finds a cache, as he likes a good hike he does. Strangely he often leaves the GPS at home and finds caches based purely on his vast knowledge of cape mountains!


I think one of the main dudes to get the game really going was Peter Scholtz, who hid about 40 or so caches in WC. He also had brochures printed up about geocaching, which i beleive he used to supply to the outdoor stores to give out with any GPS they sold. I know this because i met someone who had a GPS that he never really used. I was showing him how to use it, and I noticed this geocaching brochure in the packaging with peter Scholt's name on.

Peter Scholtz was also the 1st official SA forum Moderator.


After a period of absence, he reappeared at the second event cache in WC, and we all thought, hooray, the legend is back. He took a TB from me, only to disappear again, and not place the TB for over a year, when he proceeded to place it in a new cache of his, in the middle of a 5 day hike in the Cederberg. Scoundrel!


Peter scholtz also used to have the disturbing habit of listing the cache contents in the encrypted clues. So after a lot of searching, you spend 20 minutes deciphering, only to find out that the cache contains a teddy bear, paper clips, logbook, pen, tazos, ziploc bags, a TB and a padlock, all of which you won't see as you know you won't be able to find the cache now!


Then there was the nefarious Raymond E. He has certainly placed some beauties, but sometimes his descriptions on the cache page really leave you stumped, and wandering stright off if you want to attempt such a complex looking cache. I have still been too scared to attempt Environmental Theme East - An Ironic Juxtaposition - just look at those encrypted hints. I beleive he has retired to Swellendam now.


Now, when I started geocaching, it was my goal to catch up to Goofster and Stefanoodle. Stefanoodle currently only attends event caches if he can make it (due to work reasons), but still uses the worlds oldest GPS. it weighs about 5kgs, and is powered by a hamster running on a wheel. Due to the ancient technology of his GPS, he has to use a triangulation technique and a compass in order to work out roughly where the cache is.

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As one of the 'older' members, I joined in 2001. It took me 4 years to get to 100 caches, as there simply was not that many around. I can remember placing my first cache in 2002 (Smuts house) only for it to be found a week later. Lately RedGlobe will find a cache 14 nanoseconds after the listing appears on Groundspeak. B)


There were a few 'regular' cache-placers, one being Chris Smith who, if memory serves drove from one Engen garage to the next all over the country, dropping caches as he went. In Mpumalanga Snowwolf placed a few, and those days 4 caches in an area justified a trip there.

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Lately RedGlobe will find a cache 14 nanoseconds after the listing appears on Groundspeak. B)





I will vouch for that! RedGlobe "pounced" on 11[?] of my new caches in the Rustenburg area within 24 hours of them being published!! B)


Happy caching in 2008.



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I came to the SA caching scene in the Spring of 2005. I found Zulu 7 near Rhodes memorial as my first SA cache only to receive an email from Discombob stating that it was hidden by an American! Anyways, bob invited me out caching on Devils peak with Emzett (from Germany). I actually took at mini-bus taxi to get to Rhodes to meet them for the cache! B)


There were not many caches in the Southern Suburbs at that time. I remember placing caches and than feeling bad that people would re-travel to the area to find them after being here the past week. I did most of my caching by mini-bus in those days as I was without a car. Even got a lift to Greyton for one of TVM great-meat-braai events with Goofster.


In 2006 it seems that caching in the WC really hit a high. We were organized and cached loads together in groups. I even remember Globatrat teasing us about if you don't find the cachin in a minute, than call the owner on the phone for the clue. B) I think we cached in groups at least once a month up the west coast, Silvermine, Montagu, etc. Good times!!!


Things I think have slowed now. Even mentioned this to the Huskies last weekend while caching. Perhaps most of the teams have found all the caches in the region. Who knows...


In my 2.5 years in CPT though, caching has grown by the number of caches available to find. Not sure if the overall number of cachers active at any given time has grown though. Anyone know?

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Hi All!


Yes, I am indeed still around, but the career has seriously limited my free time. (Hi discombob!)


The SA story so far ...


At some point in the year 2000, Bill Clinton, in one of his last acts, signed into US law the removal of Selective Availability from the GPS network. Up to that point it was only accurate to 100 meter. Basically useless unless you where a smart bomb or lost in the Arctic.


Within months, geeks got onto the idea of hiding "treasure" and posting the coordinates online. Within a short period of time web sites such as Geocaching.com sprung to life.


At the end of 2000 I read an article in The Cape Argus about Geocaching and the seed was planted.


Most of my life I was an indoors person, the outdoors with that sun thing, freaky insects/arachnids and itchy grasses kept me at bay.


In early 2001 I bought a yellow eTrex and logged on to Geocaching.com. At that time there was only something like 2 or 3 caches in Cape Town (or South Africa for that matter). My first attempt was The Sentinel, but from the wrong side of the mountain. Quite amusing really, since I was completely clueless about the outdoors. See April 22, 2001: http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_detai...=y&decrypt=


Soon I found all the caches available in SA including doing a weekend drive to Bloemfontein and back to Cape Town to find the few other SA caches.


I loved this "game" but quickly realised that it needed someone to drive it for a while to get it started in SA. After all, if there is nothing to find, nobody will bother.


So I set out hiding dozens of caches (half of which still survive and in retrospect are pretty decent caches) and marketing the sport. I arranged for interviews on talk radio shows (I had to get Prof Charles Merry to do them as I have stage fright), distributed pamphlets to GPS distributors and shops (thanks to the dude in Bloem who did the DTP on the flyer - sorry forgot your name) and spreading the word to anyone that would listen. I ended up hiding around 30 caches over two years.


I did fun things like adding a live web cam to my cache details pages (though not all that useful from my office window), taking 360 degree panoramic photos of the cache sites that displayed on my cache details page via a Java panoramic viewer, developed a screen saver that pulled random pictures from this site, and made a web site with zoomable satellite images of the Western Cape with clickable links to this site. (Alas, it is offline now - not much point in it now that we have Google Earth/Maps.)


During this time some people picked up on this and started caching and hiding caches. The domino effect had started ...


You need to understand that Geocaching was my coming out of the indoor closet into the outdoors. This was a BIG thing for me. Basically, Geocaching saved my life!!! Believe it or not. If my lifestyle pattern continued the way it was I was going downhill fast. Since I started caching I've become fit, lost weight, live a healthier lifestyle AND get to go hiking and climbing in all these awesome places. So, this geek was led out of the office by his nose, closely watching a GPS LCD screen, into the outdoors, and incredibly discovered this world called nature. I haven't looked back.


A little confession: I cached for years until I discovered "that it's pretty darn nice out here" and the need to go caching to get outdoors diminished. I still cache but much less so. Nowadays I hide one seriously hard cache a year. These are all epic missions which will stay with you for the rest of your life.


As an example check these two (a new cache hidden on Towerkop near Ladismith in December 2007 will be posted soon - it's a 1,400 meter in altitude hike):




If this web site had the option to give points for a find, the above two (three) would add a 1000% to your score. (Discombob, your travelbug I placed in the Cederberg started off it's live in a very special place!)


This is still one of my most memorable as we got lost on Table Mountain (amateurs!) and only got down at 10 PM in the dark (also, I claim that this is Africa's biggest cache):



I am still the SA moderator and I'm happy to continue doing so. BUT if you guys feel that an active member could add more value then I am prepared to hand over the reigns. My only real duty the past few years have been to lock the occasional thread that became racist, after requests from you.


I've tried to find a couple of caches close to where I stay recently (Melkbosstrand) and embarrassingly I wasn't able to find them!


My only major gripe at the moment is when I search for caches in the Western Cape there are so MANY to find that I feel overwelmed and give up before starting. Stupid really, as I know you guys want lots and lots of caches to find. It would be helpful if this site allowed more classifications of caches so that I could fine tune my search. I'm thinking of classification such as "On the mountain", "Near the beach" etc etc. Maybe I'm just to lazy to read the details of the hundreds (thousands?) now available. Personally I prefer caches on Table Mountain.


But, hey, after my initial effort (and financial investment - each cache was probably worth a R100 and many included Dilbert and Far Side books), I am incredibly happy to see that it got off the ground!!! When you try to build/start something it is very frustrating when it takes a long time, queueing was never my strong point.


Btw, is there any way on this site to automatically be notified when there is an event cache in your area?


Keep caching ...




Peter Scholtz

Edited by Peter Scholtz
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What an intriguing account of the history of the sport in SA! Thanks for your insight and contribution. I am sure that many are as fascinated with you story as what I am. It is always interesting to hear how things came about and then developed. I am sure this snippet of "modern history" will go down well in the future when others ask the question that was posed by Carbon Hunter.


Your account of the beginnings of caching in South Africa have prickled something in me that will encourage me to trace the beginnings of caching in Qatar as well, albeit a lot less glamorous than that of the Western Cape and South Africa. :)


Happy caching to all and once again thanks for sharing your experiences. :D



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This is still one of my most memorable as we got lost on Table Mountain (amateurs!) and only got down at 10 PM in the dark (also, I claim that this is Africa's biggest cache):





Sorry, pete, I have found one slightly bigger in Mpumalanga, and one a lot bigger in richards Bay - 100L!


There are a lot of Table Mountain caches around at the moment - you should give some of them a go!

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