Virtual Caches - Geocaching exotics!

On our cacher trips we notice again and again: virtual caches exert an unbelievable attraction on geocachers. This is certainly also due to the fact that the "grandfathered" cache category was no longer frequently available. After Groundspeak retired this cache category, there were no more new virtual geocaches. In recent years, no new Virtual Caches could be "hidden" anymore, so there were fewer and fewer from year to year.

But what exactly are virtual caches and why are they so popular?

What are virtual caches?

Similar to EarthCaches, virtual caches have no can and no usual logbook. For some players, virtuals and earth caches are therefore not a "real" cache.
For logging, it is often sufficient to go to a specific position or the given coordinates, take a photo there (photo proof) and/or a task to complete that proves you've been there. Sometimes the owner of a virtual has to be sent an answer by mail in order to get logging permission. It is important not to spoil the answers in the logs!

A virtual that I remember very well is in Hamburg in the harbor basin. You were encouraged to take a ferry as close as possible to the cache position and then take a photo of your GPS that shows the coordinates of the virtual as precisely as possible. A nice way to show people a view that would not be experienced with a "normal" cache, because, for example, no can can be placed there. Geocaching is also becoming more diverse.

Virtual caches were introduced in the event that a real can cannot be placed in a location, e.g. in heavily "muggled" or heritage-protected locations. Often there is only photo evidence to show in the logs that you have been there.

Some places are just so sensitive that the (often conspicuous) search for the cache is simply not possible. Taking a photo, on the other hand, is hardly noticeable.
Virtual caches can't really be created today and have been "retired" on the geocaching platform since 2005. Since that time, no new ones can be placed (apart from the exception described below). There are only a few left. Nevertheless, it is possible for every geocaching player to get the little cache ghost in their own profile.

Why are virtual caches so popular?

There are quite a few geocachers who are very concerned about their geocaching statistics. Cachers keep setting new goals and one challenge after the other is met. In addition to the actual search, this sporting component in the game has its appeal. There is a site that gives out virtual geocaching badges or awards for various goals achieved in the game. This is called

The badges for finding different cache types are each divided into 8 colors. It goes from bronze to silver, gold, platinum, ruby, sapphire, emerald to diamond. The diamond level is of course the most difficult level to reach.

So for the Diamond level in the category "Traditional Cache" you need over 15,000 Tradis found! Quite a lot of work for the cachers.

The diamond level in the "Virtual Cache" category, on the other hand, can be achieved with more than 180 logged virtual caches.

What are virtual rewards?

In 2017, Groundspeak decided to give a small reward to some very active and accomplished geocachers. 4000 geocachers were selected by Groundspeak using a secret algorithm and given the opportunity to create a new virtual cache. Therefore, the geocaching community can look forward to around 4000 new virtual caches. Thus, the absolute number of virtual caches on geocaching has almost doubled. The corresponding owners will be very happy about this honor, as they can also add virtuals to their hiding place statistics.

The new virtual caches will be spread across 63 countries. These are the countries that have at least 100 geocaches. Somalia and North Korea therefore get nothing :)

In Germany alone there will probably be around 700 new virtual caches.
When planning our trips, we naturally attach great importance to visiting this special geocache category as often as possible. The search for virtuals has always been a special feature. After our last cacher trip to the USA, over 20 virtual caches were logged! Some participants may have come much closer to the goal of the "Diamond Badge"!

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