Google Earth Treasure Hunts

Challenge 19: Google Earth Treasure Hunt 3 — SOLVED

Update 2018-01-20 : Congratulations to Puzzling.Stackexchange user Gareth McCaughan for solving Challenge 19 in less than a day. He gets one point on the Leaderboard. I will post the solution soon.


Here’s Challenge #19 for January 20, 2018. It’s another Google Earth Treasure Hunt!

While exploring a cave near my house, I found a small safe. Aside from some rust, it doesn’t appear to be that old. I have reason to believe there’s something valuable inside, but I don’t know the combination. There’s a poem engraved on the side that may be the key. Can you help me solve it?

This Google Earth Treasure Hunt is a little different from the past two. Instead of hopping from location to location, you’ll need to find one specific place on Google Earth. And you do need to use Google Earth. I can’t guarantee the results if you use Google Maps Satellite View or other map software. Also, keep in mind the real place may have changed since the satellite image was taken, so go by Google Earth.

Once you pinpoint it, use the additional hints in the poem to work out the seven digits of my combination lock. I’m hoping for riches!


Here’s the poem:

This lock will open for those who
can brave the turns of English yew
The shortest route* to tower find
inside the longest of its kind
When paths diverge, record a score
where left is 1 and right is 4
And when four paths present to thee
the inside ones, mark 2 and 3
To open safe and riches win
the 7 numbers, enter in


* There may be multiple solutions, but only one is the shortest route in distance.

With CodeAWeek.com, I hope to release one cipher, puzzle, or mystery each week. 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. 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.

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Challenge 6: Google Earth Treasure Hunt 2 — SOLVED

 

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.

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

Challenge 4: A Google Earth Treasure Hunt — SOLVED

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.