Challenge 6: Google Earth Treasure Hunt 2

Here’s Challenge #6 for September 13, 2017.

GOOGLE EARTH TREASURE HUNT 2

I’ve spent many a night browsing through Google Earth in hope of solving Forrest Fenn‘s treasure hunt. I would spend hours zooming in on mountains and scrolling down rivers in Montana, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. While I never cracked the riddle, I had a blast learning about the Rocky Mountains. Google Earth’s power lies in its ability to make geography an adventure. There’s so much to learn by simply picking a land mass at random and zooming in.

That’s the impetus of my Google Earth Treasure Hunts (GETH). My first prompted you to find 4 places by solving 4 separate riddles. But it didn’t recreate the thrill of hunting for objects on a map.

For my second GETH, I hope to partially recreate the fun of zooming in on mountains and scrolling down rivers while learning about geography.

First things first. This challenge uses decimal latitude and longitude coordinates (ex.  29.978763°, 31.134297°) as opposed to degrees minutes seconds (ex. 29°58’44.64″N, 31° 8’3.05″E). To get Google Earth to show decimal values, click Tools, then Options. Under the tab called “3D View,” under the heading “Show Lat/Long,” check “Decimal Degrees.”

This challenge cuts off decimal degrees after two decimal digits. Don’t round. Just cut off. So 29.978763° would be represented as to 29.97. I debated whether or not I should use rounding, but cutting off makes searching a coordinate square much simpler.

At times, I’ll ask you to add or subtract numbers to a coordinate. Let’s say the coordinates are 29.97, -6.64 and I say, “Subtract 4.45 from the longitude coordinate.” The longitude is the second of the two coordinates, -6.64. Notice that this example is a negative number. -6.64 minus 4.45 equals -11.09.

Without further ado, here’s the challenge.


  1. This white plastic jungle feeds nations and can be seen from Earth’s orbit. Find it using Google Earth.
  2. Zoom in on that place and find the largest body of water within it. Find the bridge crossing the middle. Take the coordinates of the center of the bridge. (Cut off the numbers after two decimal digits.)
  3. Subtract 0.64 from latitude (the first coordinate.) Subtract 2.61 from longitude (the second coordinate.) Enter these new coordinates into the Google Earth search bar and press enter.
  4. See the big rock? Find the pillars and note their namesake.
  5. Convert this name into numbers where A=1, B=2, C=3, etc. Don’t put a 0 in front of single digits. (Ex. F = 6, not 06.)
  6. Make new coordinates with these numbers. The third letter of the name is the latitude coordinate before the decimal. The fourth letter is the latitude coordinate after the decimal. The fifth letter is the longitude coordinate before the decimal. The sixth letter is the longitude coordinate after the decimal.
  7. Now, subtract 36.22 from the latitude. Add 4.73 to the longitude.
  8. Enter these new coordinates into the Google Earth search bar.
  9. What do you see here? Now, find its South American rival.
  10. Once located, find the nearest river and follow it downstream until it converges with another river.
  11. Surrounding this point are three similar-looking monuments  Take the coordinates of the one painted green and yellow. Write them down. We’ll need them in a moment.
  12. Continue following the converged river northward until you pass a bridge and an island. If you see a dam, you’ve gone too far.
  13. Just after the island, search the river’s eastern coast for a large bronze deity turning his back on standing brethren. Take the coordinates of the bronze deity and write them down.
  14. Now, take the latitude of the yellow/green monument. This will be our new latitude. Take the latitude of the bronze deity. This will be our new longitude.
  15. Switch the +/- in the new latitude and longitude coordinates. If it’s a positive number, make it negative. If it’s negative, make it positive.
  16. Subtract 3.26 from the latitude. Add 6.15 to the longitude.
  17. Find the historical site within these coordinates. Where are we? If you are the first to send me the name of this place and an explanation of how you got there, you win.

In my next GETH, I hope to tie all of the locations into an overarching theme. Look for that in an upcoming weekly challenge.

With CodeAWeek.com, I hope to release one cipher, puzzle, or mystery every Wednesday evening. Anyone can attempt to solve. The winner is the first person to send a correct solution and a description of the solve method to codemaster@codeaweek.com.  If you guess incorrectly, you must wait three days to send another guess. (You can send sooner, but I will hold off replying to subsequent guesses until the 3-day window is over.)

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.

If this challenge is too hard or too easy, check out Challenges 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5.

— Tony Youngblood

UPDATE 2017/09/14: I cross-posted this puzzle on Puzzling.Stackexchange the day after I posted it here. There, in a matter of hours, Sleafar solved it. The challenge is now closed, but feel free to discuss in the comments. View the solution here.

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