Challenge 4: A Google Earth Treasure Hunt

UPDATE 2017/09/23: We have winners! This challenge was solved by Humn, Euchre Mutt, Gareth McCaughan, and Irishpanda. The challenge is now closed, but feel free to discuss in the comments. View the solution here.

Here’s Challenge #4 for August 30, 2017.

A GOOGLE EARTH TREASURE HUNT

For today’s challenge, I’m trying something new: a Google Earth treasure hunt.

For this hunt, you don’t need a shovel. You don’t even need to leave your house. All you need is Google Earth (or Google Maps) and the mind of a treasure hunter.

This hunt was inspired by Forrest Fenn’s hidden treasure and the 1979 treasure hunt picture book Masquerade.

Imagine that I’ve locked away ten million dollars in a high security vault.* The vault is protected by a digital keypad. The correct combination is comprised of decimal latitude and longitude coordinates, accurate to two decimal points. To unlock my vault, you must identify four places in the world and correctly enter their coordinates. For example, if one of the places is the Great Pyramid of Giza, the full coordinates would be: 29.978763°, 31.134297°. We don’t need to be THAT precise, so we round to two decimal points to get: 29.98°, 31.13°. That’s the format I’m looking for when you submit your answer

To get Google Earth to show decimal values instead of degrees/minutes/seconds, click Tools, then Options. Under the tab called “3D View,” under the heading “Show Lat/Long,” check “Decimal Degrees.”

Here are clues to the four locations. Can you figure out where I’m talking about?

  1. Here, a babirusa lies in wait, as it has done for the last 40,000 years. It is the oldest of its kind in the world (that we know of as of this writing).
  2. In this wondrous museum that isn’t in England, Germany, or the United States, you can hear violins, drums, flutes, pipes, whistles, bells, chimes, pianos, xylophones, and even full orchestras. You can see the instruments being played, but you won’t find people doing the playing.
  3. General Sherman may be the largest of his kind, but who has the farthest reach? (Outward, not upward.)
  4. This (sort of) cave trail is home to the fairies, located within a tourist attraction in the United States that is advertised for hundreds of miles as the place you simply must SEE.

The winner is the first person to send the correct coordinates, numbered 1 through 4 to codemaster@codeaweek.com. You must guess all four correctly to be considered the winner. If you send a guess and it’s wrong, you must wait three days to send the next guess. (You can send sooner, but I will hold off replying to subsequent guesses until the 3-day window is over.)

If you’re not sure how to find latitude and longitude on Google Earth, watch this tutorial.

To ensure that you get the exact coordinates, pull them from the Google Earth pin of the place. In the above pyramid example, you would find the “Great Pyramid of Giza” pin and use that exact location’s coordinates.

Once a correct solution is e-mailed, I will publish a follow-up post, congratulating the winner and revealing the secrets of the code. You may post questions or theories in the comments, but DO NOT POST SOLUTIONS. E-mail them to codemaster@codeaweek.com.

— Tony Youngblood

* I don’t really have ten millions dollars or a vault. I barely have a checking account. The only prize is the thrill of the solve and your name in the Code A Week record books.

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