Today, Suburban Stroller took to the streets of Claremont and surrounding suburbs of Cape Town, in search of hidden treasure. I kid you not. The mission for the day was to locate four geocaches within a 1-mile radius of my home. My previous experience of geocaching was in the mountains of Bolivia, where I traded the cover of my expired South African passport as “Stuff We All Get” (SWAG) … but that’s a story for another time.
In case you’ve never heard of geocaching, it is a scavenger hunt for hidden containers holding log-sheets and various knick-knacks left by fellow scavengers – SWAG in the geocache lingo. There are millions of geocaches worldwide – including more than 1,500 in or around Cape Town. Some are found along hiking trails – others in the city and suburbs. Using the Geocache App on your phone (or another GPS device), you can identify geocaches in your vicinity on a map – and then navigate your way to one. Most of them are freely accessible to non-paying participants (like myself), while the clues for some are reserved for “premium” members.
Once in the general location, you begin your search, using the clues provided. If you are savvy enough to find it, you open the container, sign your name on the log, and perhaps trade SWAG for something already in it. You then return the container to its original position. You also log your find on the App.
Today’s hunt started with my partner, Mimi, and I strolling to Arderne Gardens, in search of the “Bushman’s Poison Tree” geocache. Arderne Gardens, in Main Road Claremont, is a designated Provincial Heritage Site, with one of the most diverse collections of exotic trees – some 400 of them – in South Africa. Amongst others, it boasts a magnificent Moreton Bay Fig tree (locally called the “Wedding Tree”), which is one of the largest trees in the country. The gardens are managed by the City of Cape Town with the support of the Friends of Arderne Gardens, whose dedication constitutes an amazing gift to nature and to humanity. While not giving away any spoilers, the geocache was easy to find once we figured out what we were looking for.
Next up was Keurboom Park in Rondebosch, another green lung in the southern suburbs, which provides a wonderful recreational space for visitors of various animal species (including humans). It is maintained by the City of Cape Town, together with the Keurboom Park Association. The park is home to at least two geocaches (“Keurboom Park” and “Watching the Game”). Ably assisted by my children, Hannah and Omphile, both were located without too much difficulty – although the hiding places of both are quite ingenious.
The last challenge for the day was to find “MS: Josephine”. It is a “micro cache” (geocache lingo for a really small one) located at Josephine’s Mill, an historic watermill in Newlands. Built in 1840 by the Swede, Joseph Letterstedt, it subsequently fell into disrepair. Fortunately, it was bequeathed to the Cape Town Historical Society in 1975. After more than a decade of restoration, the enormous iron water-wheel started turning again. The Mill now includes a museum and a really cool restaurant. Hannah located the geocache here. I don’t want to give the game away, but let me just say that it held a certain magnetic attraction.
If you haven’t already tried it (or even if you have), geocaching is a fun free activity for the whole family – wherever you are in the world. For more information, go to https://www.geocaching.com/play.