Mount Arrowsmith, the imposing basalt mountain which stands as the highest point on southern Vancouver Island, isn't just one of the region's most recognizable landmarks, it's also one of its most jaw-dropping.
Part of a 1,300-hectare regional park and a UNESCO Biosphere Region, this stunning area is crammed full of natural beauty. From alpine meadows that are awash with flowers to the kaleidoscope of creatures that call the mountain home, it truly is one of the jewels in the island’s crown.
As a result, Mount Arrowsmith and the surrounding area has long been a destination for hikers, mountain bikers, and weekend enthusiasts to explore. But now an innovative new game is inspiring people to enjoy this idyllic environment like never before.
A GAME UNLIKE ANY OTHER
In association with Geocaching.com, Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region has turned its world-class natural attractions into key destinations for an interactive outdoor game that’s been dubbed “the world’s largest treasure hunt.” It’s one of the fastest-growing hobbies in the world with millions of people switching on to the fun and friendly activity that’s getting people off their couches and on their feet.
Photo: Michelle Harnett – photo courtesy of Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism
HOW IT WORKS
According to Geocaching.com, which has been the de-facto hub of the game ever since 2000, geocaching is “a simple outdoor adventure whereby participants use a GPS or a free mobile app to find cleverly hidden containers around the world,” otherwise known as geocaches.
Once you’ve located the caches, which can vary in size from a pill container to a jewellery box, you’ll find a logbook to record your discovery and treasure in the form of a small trinket. Once you complete the Official Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region Amazing Places Geotour, you will be rewarded with a one-of-a-kind GeoCoin, a memorable keepsake that participants can remember their unforgettable adventure by.
Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region has also developed a GeoTour Field Guide to help you through your own adventure. Crammed full of helpful tips, interesting information, instructions, and maps, it contains everything you need to complete the tour and claim your prize. Best of all, the Field Guide is free to download, or just $10 for those looking to take home their own hard copy.
Photo: Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism
WHY IT’S SO FUN
Part of the reason why Geocaching has seen a surge in popularity is its simplicity. There’s no expensive equipment needed. Instead, all you need is a sense of adventure and a fully charged smartphone.
It’s also a fantastic way to get out and explore the very real treasures that the world has to offer. Whether you’re a solo traveller, a couple, or a family, you can get out and experience the region in a whole new light.
As well as excitement and adventure, you also get to learn more about the world around you, uncover hidden sights and even get active as you excitedly hunt for your next geocache.
Most importantly, as part of the experience, players will get a chance to see some of the natural wonders that make Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region so magical. From the incredible old-growth Douglas firs at Cathedral Grove to the magnificent waters of Englishman River Falls via the serenity served up by Cameron Lake, and sandy low tide at Rathtrevor Beach, it’s an inspiring adventure and a unique way to experience the area.
This year, in addition to the Geotour, the project has also introduced three new Adventure Labs. Each lab connects 3-4 of the Amazing Places through a nature-centric theme. Adventurers download the Geocaching Adventure Lab app, visit each place, follow the story and solve for the clue to complete the lab. Completing a lab gets your name entered into a draw for a grand prize at the end of the season.
Two of the three adventure labs are already available. The third and final lab will be released on March 23rd.
Photo: @kelseymja – photo courtesy of Parksville Qualicum Beach Tourism
WHAT'S STOPPING YOU?
Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region's Amazing Place GeoTour is a great way to soak in everything the island has to offer. However, to really experience it in its entirety, you need to spread the adventure over a weekend, or longer.
With its world-class beaches, stunning natural beauty, an abundance of local artisans, great dining options, and accommodation, Parksville Qualicum Beach is the perfect base from which to launch your own Geocaching adventure.
While technology will be key to helping you on your own interactive treasure hunt, it’s the offline connections that you can expect to live long in the memory. With its small-town community and laid back vibe, Parksville Qualicum Beach will help you strengthen the connections that matter the most, helping you to reconnect, rediscover, and recharge all at the same time.
Visit Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region to find out how you can kick start your own Amazing Places GeoTour and check out Parksville Qualicum Beach to plan your stay.
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