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There's treasure in them thar hills

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A trackable found in a geocache in Bermuda. (photo by Glenn Tucker)

Forget about gambling; treasure hunting might be the newest tourist attraction for Bermuda.This week 30 cruise ship visitors sang Bermuda’s praises after taking a three day geocaching tour. Geocachers use Global Positioning System (GPS) devices to follow geographic coordinates to hidden caches of “treasure” consisting of little things such as notes, knick-knacks, plastic coins, figurines, and postcards.The geocaching tour was recently launched by Darlene Fortin of the Bermuda Island Geocachers (BIG) club and the Department of Conservation.The Royal Gazette caught up with the group at N 32 19.429W 64 44.300 (The Bermuda Aquarium, Museum and Zoo) where at least one cache was hidden.“This tour has been fantastic,” said Marshall Shear of Rochester, New York. Geocaching has taken Mr Shear all over Europe, South America and the Caribbean. “It was fantastic. It took us to places in Bermuda that we never would have gotten to otherwise. In the past, when I have come to Bermuda it has been more about the beaches and the ocean. This time we saw things I never would have imaged were here. I saw some beaches I didn’t know about. I didn’t expect there to be so much rural space in such a highly populated area like Bermuda.”The Geocachers searched for geoloot in places such as Coopers Island, The Gladys Morrell Nature Reserve and Ferry Reach.Roger and Paula Cooley, of Buffalo, New York said: “It is great because you get to see places that a normal tourist won’t see,” said Mr Cooley. “You get to see people and their homes. The caches are normally placed by local people who want you to see something they love about the area.”They have found so many caches that they have glued many of them to a bulletin board at home.“I still have two whole boxes of stuff at home that we have collected and haven’t had time to put up,” said Mrs Cooley.The caches are always on public land, unless individuals have given permission for caches to be hidden on their property. Cachers are expected to take something from the cache, but also to leave something in its place. Many of the caches reflect a location, or perhaps the cacher’s other passions. There are also trackable coins and other items that have a number on them. You take the cache home and log the number onto a website, and then leave the trackable at a different cache location. In this way geocachers see their trackables show up all over the world, often thousands of miles from where they were originally placed. There are now two Bermuda specific trackable coins for geocachers to find.The group of 30 came to Bermuda solely for the geocaching tour. The trip was organised by Denise Canavan, a travel agent in Nashua, New Hampshire. She runs a business called Cruise Planners American Express.“I connected with Darlene Fortin last year,” said Ms Canavan. “I saw her website. We have already had one group come here made up of 34 people. We will be doing it again in May and another cruise in September.“This is a beautiful place to do geotouring. It really gives you an opportunity to see what the Island is all about. We were looking at it from a beautiful perspective. Even some of our taxi drivers went to some places they hadn’t been to.”Ms Fortin is originally from Canada. When she came to Bermuda a few years ago there were only 30 caches hidden. Since then she has made it her mission to increase the profile of the hobby. There are now 300 caches around the Island and even some hidden underwater for scuba divers.She is currently trying to get charitable status for BIG.“Geocaching is a great piece to the puzzle of tourism,” she said. “It is another thing for visitors to do when they come here. I love working with people to bring geocaching here. There are six million geocachers worldwide. They are always looking for unique destinations. There aren’t a lot of islands like Bermuda that have the amount of caches that are out there now. We expect to have had about 300 people take the geocaching tour by the end of the year. ”The Bermuda Department of Tourism has donated a bunch of pink golf tees that can be found in the caches around Bermuda.To get from one place to another they used the services of taxi driver Roseann Tucker of and Tony Talbot.Ms Tucker said she enjoyed working with the geotour and was herself a geocacher. She runs a concierge service called Creative Response.“It was fun,” she said.For more information about BIG see www.facebook.com/groups/BermudaIslandGeocachers or contact Ms Fortin at bermudaislandgeocachers@gmail.com or call 599-6896.

A group of Cruise ship visitors who came to Bermuda specifically to geocache. Third from right in the front is Darlen Fortin with travel agent Denise Canavan. (photo by Glenn Tucker)
Bermuda visitor wearing a Bermuda Island Geocacher (BIG) T-shirt. (photo by Glenn Tucker)
A GPS device used in finding geocaches (photo by Glenn Tucker)