Eager of discovering abandoned places in Iceland? Fond of urbex (urban exploration)? In Iceland, lost in the middle of an infinite black sand beach, you will find a Plane Wreck as if it landed on another planet. You might have seen many pictures of this plane wreck in the middle of nowhere. It actually is one of the most famous spots in Iceland. This place could be out of a sci-fi scene how surreal it seems like.
To find the place, it is well indicated, you can simply put “Solheimasandur Plane Wreck” on Maps and it will show you the parking lot directly. The parking lot is right next to road 1 on the South Coast, right after Seljalandsfoss and Sólheimajökull when coming from Reykjavik. There are usually many cars parked there. There is a fence with signals giving you some info about the plane history, the safety and cautions you should be aware of.
From the parking lot to the Plane Wreck, you will have to hike a little but do not worry, the hike is pretty easy as you will walk on the flat black sand beach, straight ahead of you. The hike is about 30 minutes – 1h each way and in case this would be too demanding or you do not have the time, there is a shuttle if you want to go back and forth from the parking lot to the plane wreck. It costs about 2500 ISK and the drive is about 15 minutes each way.
The hike is rather pleasant as it is flat and you can really appreciate the desertic landscape surrounding you. It feels like you are on another planet, alone. By distance, you can see the glacier, dyrholaey and the coast. Your mind will be blown away!
The path is well indicated as you will simply need to follow the yellow sticks showing the road straight to the plane. It is basically, going straight in front of you from the parking lot to the plane. This signaled path is quite recent as people used to get lost in this infinite landscape. In summer, it won’t be a problem for you to find your way. However, during the winter time, the whole path is covered in snow and it can be tough to find your way. For this reason, it is highly recommended to not attempt the hike without an experienced guide.
This plane is not there for no reason, likely, the story behind it is not morbid. All the passengers survived the crash. The origins of the crash are pretty unclear, they were either due to human error or mechanical failure. The most common story says this United States Navy DC plane ran out of fuel November 21rst, in 1973, during a storm after the pilot switched over to the wrong fuel tank by mistake. This plane was flying from Höfn to Keflavík. This plane was delivering equipment for the US Radar Station in Höfn. It was one of the four Douglas Dakota planes present at the US Navy base in Keflavík. It is interesting to know that Iceland, and in particular Keflavík Airport, was an important strategic base for the US during the Cold War. The base closed in 2006 after the US Navy left Iceland.
When you go for the hike to the plane, note that it is kind of always windy over there, we tried to go there in summer but it was super windy and not all of us had the proper clothes against the wind. We came back at the end of September, it was super windy too but if you wear proper clothes and a raincoat, you should be fine! If it is raining or the wind is extremely strong, do not go there, you can always check the weather in advance on vedur.is. In any case, rest assured that whatever the weather, the pictures always look cool!
In the pictures it usually feels like when you go there you are completely alone in this desertic landscape. However, good for you to know that this place is very touristic, there are usually tons of tourists around the wreck, so you have to be smart when taking your pictures, to find the perfect angle with nobody on it. Many people I met said it was not really worth it to go there or were not interested at all in seeing this place, however, I would really recommend you to go there if you have time, I personally think it is completely worth it!
The last important information you should know before going there: please, leave the place as you found it. This is applicable for any places in Iceland, make sure you do not spoil nature when visiting a place. In particular for the plane wreck, do not spoil the plane itself by vandalising it, making grafitis and things like this. It is very important to respect the places you visit.