Bored with your regular package holiday? Why not go on an altogether different kind of adventure where you could hunt for lost treasure during your break!
Destination: New Orleans
The lost treasure: The loot of pirate Jean Lafitte
Jean Lafitte was known for plundering merchant ships in the Gulf of Mexico and stashing the loot to retrieve later. It comes as no surprise then that, following his sudden death in the 1820s, word got out of treasure to be found. Two locations have been identified – Lake Borgne off the coast of New Orleans, and 5km east of the Old Spanish Trail near the Sabine River in a gum tree grove!
The best time to head to New Orleans is in April when the music festival season starts. The weather is pleasant at this time of year, but there are likely to be hints of the extremely hot days in store during the summer months. October is another key time to visit, not only has the weather cooled off a little, but there is a great carnival atmosphere around Halloween.
The lost treasure: A golden owl originally to be exchanged for a 1 million francs
In 1993 Max Valentin hid a golden owl somewhere in the French countryside. His aim was to inspire everyone in France to become a professional treasure hunter and his carrot on a stick, so to speak, was for what would have originally been a 1 million franc reward, in the form of a more valuable replica owl, to whoever found it. Max – not his real name by the way, he was actually author Regis Hauser – went on to dish out 11 clues, apparently one person came very close to finding it in 1999. Max Valentin died in a car crash in 2009 taking the precise location with him, but it has been announced that the reward will be honoured to whoever finds the owl.
France is huge – so where should you go if it is your first visit to the country? Paris is top of the bill, followed by the Loire Valley; Provence, and the French Rivera are also absolute musts! The Alps! Got to squeeze the Alps in, and it would be an absolute shame if you missed some key winemaking regions such as Champagne, Burgundy, or Bordeaux.
Destination: New Mexico
The lost treasure: 16 tonnes of gold
While you might have trouble getting the gold back in your suitcase, finding the buried treasure of Leon Trabuco and co. in the New Mexico Desert will certainly spice up your Instagram stream! Story goes that in the Great Depression Leon and his associates predicted that the price of gold would explode sometime soon, so they decided to keep hold of as much as they could by burying it in the desert. While Leon was right, gold became worth LOADS, he didn’t foresee the Gold Reserve Act coming into force, which basically made private ownership of gold illegal and they were unable to sell their stash. When he died Leon took the exact location of the gold with him.
New Mexico is known as the Land of Enchantment, but there is even a place within this land that stands out from its neighbours – Taos. The landscape here is powerful, behind the town are snow-capped mountain peaks, volcanic plateaux that spill dramatically into the Rio Grande Gorge, and the skies are HUGE. Expect magnificent sunsets, dreamy blue skies, and spectacular storm clouds capable of dwarfing these epic vistas.
Destination: Key West
The lost treasure: $200 million+ of gold and silver.
Raging hurricanes are fairly common in this part of the world, and back in 1622 they sealed the fate of a number of cargo ships passing through. It is said that these ships were in fact carrying an unusual cargo – gold and silver, to the tune of $700 million no less in today’s money. In 1985 a whopping $500 million worth of this treasure was found buried less than 160 kilometers off the coast of Key West leaving experts convinced that there is still plenty left to find!
Key West, AKA the pathway to paradise, is billed as a tropical oasis ideal for diving – made all the more enticing at the thought of finding $200 million worth of treasure! Lionfish, angelfish and stingrays are just some of the fish you’ll find in the reefs here, plus dolphins and turtles make the Keys their home too. The crystal clear water, along with occasionally turbulent weather, also makes this the place to be for wreck diving, presently tours take in the newly sunken Vandenberg, a 520-foot U.S. military missile-tracking ship.