Wherigo Caches – Part 1: Playing the game

What is Wherigo?

Wherigo is a GPS outdoor activity that was created by Groundspeak. The idea is that wherigo is a cross between geocaching and an adventure game. Each game is called a cartridge and the game is played on your GPS device. As I write there are only 41 wherigo Geocaches available in the entire country, so I think it’s fair to say that it never took off massively over here in connection with geocaching. Wherigo cartridges don’t have to have caches at the end. They could simply be a fun location based game. Groundspeak did however patent the idea in US Patent number 6,691,032 so they obviously thought they had a good idea at the time, however since their wherigo builder hasn’t received any update since May 2008 it seems like for now they have lost interest with the idea.

Not a lot to choose from!

With a standard Geocache you have predefined coordinates and you know that if you go to those coordinates your GPSr will tell you how close to them you are and then you can rummage in the bushes for the box. I suppose you could say that in their most basic form wherigo’s are like an advanced multi. The idea with wherigo’s is that you have areas called zones. Unlike with a geocache where you say “This box is in this exact location”, there is more flexibility with zones and you start having an entire area where you say “you need to go to this place” Zones may be quite loose and mean you have to go to a forest, in which case the zone may have a radius of 0.25 miles for example. Or perhaps you want them to go to a certain plaque on a building, so the zone here would have a radius of perhaps just 40ft.

An example of two zones. You will reach the zone whenever you get anywhere within the perimeter

How do I play?

Supported GPS’

Up until the big smartphone rush, only specific Garmins supported wherigo. All Oregons support it, as do the now discontinued Colorados. The Dakota 10 and 20 have no support for wherigos, and interestingly neither do the newer GPSMAP 62’s. Possibly the limited support on GPS devices for Wherigo’s haven’t helped with their popularity.

An example of what navigating to a zone may look like on an Oregon

Groundspeak Wherigo Player

The wherigo player on the official groundspeak site is compatible with Windows Mobile 2003+ meaning it can work on PocketPC (PDA’s) and the later Windows Mobile phones.


OpenWIG is a Java based wherigo player which works on Blackberries and other phones that support java apps.

iPhone PiGo

Up until last year (I think it was) there wasn’t a way of playing wherigo’s on the iPhone due to I believe, the problems with executing code (the cartridges) on the iphone (Apple isn’t keen on executing programs/code that hasn’t been through theirr app store process). However, some smart cookie out there developed PiGo. Which in my experience works pretty well.

Left: The different wherigo attributes. Right: Navigating to a zone

Android WhereYouGo

WhereYouGo is the wherigo player for Androids. We’ve tested it out and it works well. It doesn’t seem to be as accurate as the iPhone, however I would say this is more dependent on the hardware (GPS receiver) of the Android phone that you are using.


You don’t actually need any device to play some wherigo cartridges. An emulator allows you to pretend that your computer is actually a GPS device. Some cartridges don’t allow you to play them in the emulator, because you will be able to complete the cartridge and possibly obtain the cache coordinates without doing playing the wherigo. It seems sensible to protect the cartridges. However there are some cartridges that do play in the emulator, and Penguin Escape is an example of quite a fun little game to give you an idea of how i all works.

Groundspeak Wherigo Player

The official player is great in that it allows you to move a little man around the map as if it were you walking to zones. It’s a bit like the Google streetview man. I really like this feature and if you’ve never tried a wherigo I’d reckon giving perhaps Penguin Escape a play in the emulator just to get the idea of how everything comes together, as there is much more to it than zones. There are characters, items, tasks, etc. just like a computer game.

Just be aware that Wherigo Player is going to have a problem running if you’re running a 64-bit version of Windows. If you have no idea what I’m talking about, then don’t worry, you’re most probably fine. However if you know that you’re using it on 64-bit or if you experience strange errors when trying to use the emulator then it’s more than likely that you need the following fix from the GC forums. Scroll down the the post by ‘a_snail’ and download the file he’s posted. That certainly fixed my problem.

An example of the wherigo builder emulator


OpenWIG’s DesktopWIG is a Java based emulator and in my opinion not as nice as the official one. If however there are good reasons why you can’t use the official emulator then this will serve as a basic emulator just to try a few cartridges (For example, as this runs on Java you should be able to run it on a Mac, if you’re that way inclined!) The thing that makes the Groundspeak emulator a little better is the google map and the little map. With DesktopWIG you will have to enter the coordinates to move yourself to zones, which can get a little fiddly!

Emulating Penguin Escape in DesktopWIG

So… Where next?

I’ve been busy developing and testing a wherigo cartridge that I’ve created over the past few weeks, so next I’m going to post a blog on the options available for creating the cartridges, rather than playing them. I’ve decided that I’d keep the two subjects separate as the next topice may seem a bit advanced for some readers.

So tell me, have you ever done a wherigo? Did you enjoy it? Do you wish there were more around the country to be attempted? Or are they something that doesn’t bother you? Perhaps simply because you don’t see the appeal, or because you don’t have a device that supports one?


8 Responses to “Wherigo Caches – Part 1: Playing the game”

  1. Sarah Says:

    The truth is, despite having an Oregon and a Droid, I’ve never had the guts to try to find one after reading so many logs of hours wasted and frustration with them not working properly or freezing up 2/3 of the way round and having to start again.

    I just know that that would drive the kids up the wall and they’d refuse to ever come caching again, and that feels like a big risk! 🙂

    I’ve added it to my list of things to do though, and I am fairly stubborn about ticking goals off my list, so we will have to bite the bullet soon.

    • geocass Says:

      I think if you put the cartridge on both your Oregon and the Android and play both at the same time then you stand less likelihood of a fatal crash spoiling the fun. Also have a read of the reviews on the wherigo cartridge page and in the GC logs and you should get a good idea if it’s a stable cartridge.

      • Hannah Says:

        We did our first Wherigo a few weeks ago. All three of us used the iphone PiGo app and it worked! Ok, it wasn’t 100% smooth running but there was nothing major, just a case of us walking too fast and the iphone GPS taking a few moments to catch up.

        Sarah- we did the one in Kintbury (Kinbury Kapers) and it was excellent. One of the best ‘multis’ I’ve done! The idea was novel which may have added to the experience, but all 3 of us really enjoyed it. I feel a little sad that there aren’t more that are closer by.

        At the end of our Wherigo, there was a cache to sign. The wherigo took us to the village pub, up the canal and to the church. It was a great walk.

  2. John aka Grimmer Scotting Says:

    I’ve only found one Wherigo cache but I must say, Fi & I loved it, it was called the Winding Charm (GC1YVMR) and involved walking around the Medieval village of Dunster collecting things to make up a charm to release a fairy from an evil spell, not sure our charm was going to work as when we threw it into the river, it was immediately eaten by a West Highland Terrier! From what I’ve read, this is quite a simple Wherigo cache that is ideally suited to kids or those people who just don’t grow up, me included!

    Perhaps that’s the key to these caches, keep it simple and fun, my brother has found a few in Hampshire and they are very popular, only problem I’ve heard is they are not the easiest things to lay which is perhaps why they go wrong sometimes. I’ll be interested to hear how you get on GeoCass and I for one will certainly be attempting your cache once it’s published.

    Just one last point, if you want to give it a go you can try some play anywhere cartridges, the best one I’ve tried to-date is “Solar System Stroll” where you take a hand full of stones and pretend you are walking out from the centre of the sun and drop one at each planet you pass, gives you some idea of the scale of the known universe.

    Happy Caching.

    • geocass Says:

      Thanks for the comment, John. That sounds like a great wherigo. Definitely one I love to do. We were down near Minehead last year and I had noticed it, but had no way of playing it at the time. If we ever go down that way again we will try it. I love the idea of a charm eating west highland terrier! I definitely think simple and fun is the way to go. If you try building too much complexity into them without knowing what you’re doing I think that is what puts people off of them and makes cartridges crash. I’m starting off with a quite simple one before getting ahead of myself, but the next one will definitely be more of an adventure game.

      Thanks for mentioning the Play Anywhere cartridges. Something I missed out! Have played a few but haven’t seen the solar system one. I’ll download that and have a play one night. 🙂

    • Gill Morton Says:

      Hi John, I hope you don’t mind me contacting you through this site, but why do you call yourself Grimmer Scotting? He was one of my ancestors, so are you also related?
      Feel free to contact me through Facebook if you like.

  3. cache4pat Says:

    Great Website :))

  4. Babs Says:

    how do I log a wherigo cache that I found?

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