Whilst Geocaching.com was the first geocaching site, and is the most popular, it’s not the only one. Other sites exist and today I’m going to look at Opencaching.org.uk – the UK branch of the Opencaching Network which operates in several EU countries and the US.
The Opencaching site differs from Geocaching.com in that it’s completely free to use; Groundspeak, who own Geocaching.com, do have a free service but you have to buy a premium membership to access certain caches and use some tools, for example. Additionally, it has an open API; Groundspeak is gradually rolling out its Geocaching Live API to select developers at present but not many third-party apps use it as of yet.
Other than those differences, the experience is largely the same – there’s a series of caches listed which you can search for and retrieve the co-ordinates; you can then either print off the details or send the information to your GPS device. There doesn’t appear to be any apps for smartphones as yet though. Similarly, if you find a cache, you can log it on the site.
Unfortunately the site isn’t yet very popular. I counted a grand total of 6 caches in Yorkshire (including ‘webcam’ caches which arguably aren’t ‘real’ geocaches); conversely, there’s 6 caches listed within a 1 mile radius of my flat in geocaching.com. Nationally 512 caches are listed; on geocaching.com there are probably over a hundred thousand caches in the UK. The US Opencaching site only lists under 681 caches across the country.
Despite this, I’ve listed my cache on Opencaching.org.uk – it’s usually okay to list caches on multiple site and Opencaching even lets you enter the waypoint reference from other sites like Geocaching.com. There’s no harm in having it listed in multiple places and it may even allow more people to find it.