It’s always pleasant to walk through the town on a beautiful summer evening. But why not make it a fun and exciting outing as well? A simple mobile app gives you access to hundreds of hidden treasures around Åland.

It’s all about Geocaching, the modern coordinate-based treasure hunt that constantly takes the user to new places.
Mariehamn is a town that is brimming with secrets. There are a large number of caches to be found. But what is a geocache, actually?
You can go to a website or phone app and get the coordinates and descriptions relating to these hidden treasures, known as caches.
The caches are located in places of historic or cultural significance, as well as in places that are simply nice to visit.
When you find a cache, you sign a logbook. There are also some small things you can take away with you. The only rule is that you have to leave something of equal or greater value in its place.
We took Nell Cohen (aged 18), Dana Cohen (aged 13) and Ronja Nyman (aged 12) with us to give geocaching a go. 

Out in the field

kanon-mariehamn-hi-IMG_5779We started with “the Cannon” in Mariehamn, near Gröna Udden. It’s a naturally beautiful place in the summer and features on many walks.
The cache has a level of difficulty of 2.5 out of 5 and the description goes: “Tullarns Äng is a lovely area for walks in central Mariehamn. Especially in the spring when there are masses of flowers and birds around. There is an old Bomarsund cannon near the cache. There are also two beaches in the vicinity of the cache, both of which are suitable for children.”
The girls start searching through the cannon. Ronja Nyman lifts up Dana Cohen to check whether it’s in the cannon itself.
“I think we’re too far away,” says Nell, setting a course in another direction.
The girls search around everything nearby that looks odd. A geocache can look like anything! They can even be disguised as a part of the countryside.
“Sometimes they are really well hidden. For instance, they can be fixed with a magnet under things, so you have to be alert. They can’t be buried. You have to be able to figure out where they are,” says Nell Cohen.

Is there anything in particular you have to bear in mind when you’re geocaching?

 “You can’t move the cache, and you shouldn’t damage anything. You should also avoid drawing attention to yourself,” says Nell Cohen.
The three of them go carefully round the area where the cache is hidden for about five minutes, until Dana happens on it by chance. That was how they found it.
“It was well hidden, but when Dana happened to get at it, we noticed that was where it was,” says Nell Cohen and laughs.
“That was quite hard! You have to think logically and be alert,” says Ronja Nyman.

Rock climbing in the town

lotsberget-hi-IMG_4647

The next cache the girls set course for is “Lotsberget”. A location in Mariehamn that is really close to the countryside.
The level of difficulty for this cache is 1.5 but the terrain factor is 3 out of 5.
“A traditional cache on Lotsberget above the harbour. If the weather is fine, take a picnic basket and enjoy the view,” says the description.
“We have to go into the forest for 200 metres,” notes Nell Cohen and takes the lead.
After about 100 metres the girls come up against a rock wall. They start to climb.
Once they are up on the hill they don’t take long to get to the place indicated by the coordinates.
“There it is,” says Dana Cohen and points. They open the cache and take turns to sign the logbook.
“That was fun and quite easy,” says Ronja Nyman.

What’s the best thing about geocaching?

“You get to look around new places you haven’t seen before. And you get to experience new things at the same time,” says Ronja.

Who is geocaching suited to?

“Everyone, whatever their age. It’s something for the whole family.”
Nell believes that geocaching is brilliantly suited to tourists.
“Since all caches are located in cultural and historical locations, it’s a perfect way of exploring a town. And tourists get to see great places at the same time,” she says.
“If you haven’t got anything else to do, you can go geocaching. It can be a fun thing to do with friends,” says Dana Cohen.

 

This is what you have to do

1. Register on www.geocaching.com.
2. Find the coordinates via the website.
3. Enter them on a GPS device.

Smartphone
1. Go on to the website and check which app works on your phone.
2. Download it.
3. Follow the instructions.

If you find something hidden (deliberately or not)
1. Don’t damage it.
2. Don’t move it.
3. If you want to take something away, you must leave something of equal or greater value in its place.
4. Sign the logbook.
5. Don’t tell anyone where the cache is

 

Text: Jannik Svensson/Åland Just Nu 6/2014. The whole event magazine and the article are available in Swedish here.

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