Geocaching enthusiasts from across Europe have flocked to Wallonia’s Eau D’Heure lakes, near the town of Cerfontaine, to take part in a large geocaching event, according to Belgian broadcaster RTBF.
Geocaching is a form of real-world game and outdoor pursuit. Clues will be given, typically online, to the location of a hidden container containing a logbook, which are often elaborate hidden in nature or even in plain sight in urban environments.
Geogachers often leave mementos behind in the boxes which are picked up and exchanged. Some even leave digitally trackable tokens, which are often transported all across the country by enthusiasts.
David Nuewels, president of the Wallon geocaching enthusiast group “Géowallons” told RTBF that the activity attracted adults and children alike. His association has been running large geocaching events across Wallonia since 2019.
“It has become a kind of way of life for thousands of followers. You go on circuits around the lakes and there are no less than 400 little hidden treasures to discover. With friends, family, on foot, by bike… There’s something for everyone,” Nuewels said.
At the Walloon geocaching events, participants used their cartography skills and solved puzzles and riddles in order to locate the many hidden caches stashed around the countryside.
Typically, geocaching is extremely decentralised. Through the official website, users can hide or search for caches planted by other users. Geocaching can be done alone, or with friends.
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This event is what Neuwels calls “mega-geocaching”, a more organised event dedicated to geocaching which draws larger, and more organised groups. According to a press release by the organisers, the event drew participants to numerous walking and bike routes around the lakes and surrounding villages.
“People have been waiting for such a ‘mega-geocaching’ event for three years, and the wait was enormous. We have people who come from really far away to discover the region by geocaching. Slovakia, Germany, Portugal, Italy. We sometimes come from really far away,” the geocache organiser stated.
One participant at the Walloon event had travelled over 350 kilometres from his home to explore the Belgian countryside.
According to Belgian geocaching website Geocachen.be, there are currently over 31,000 geocaches hidden across Belgium, the oldest of which has been hidden for around 22 years. Even after the Eau d'Heure lakes event is over, the geocaches will remain and help draw tourism to the local area.
Geocaches can be found in all different shapes and sizes, and in various locations. They can be hidden in famous landmarks, off the beaten path, up trees, underwater, behind lampposts, in abandoned buildings, or even disguised as other objects.
Some can be found in just a few hours, while others may take specialist equipment and many hours of determination to solve.
Future geocaching “mega events” across Wallonia will be posted on the official website of Géowallons.