Go Off The Beaten Path, Literally In Iceland
Do you want to see something unique in a surreal and barren landscape? How about a deserted American airplane that crash-landed on an empty beach fifty years ago? In this post, you’ll learn how to get to and see Iceland’s DC-3 plane wreck.
If you have time to kill, you can take a 45-minute walk (each way) out to the remains of this decaying airplane. You can find this popular tourist site in Solheimasandur on the South Coast of Iceland.
If you have better things to do in this part of the country, you could skip this hike and continue on your journey. But if you want and are willing to do something unique, here’s how you can get to the plane.
About Iceland’s DC-3 Plane Wreck
In 1973 a United States Navy DC-3 plane ran out of fuel and crash-landed on a remote stretch of black sand. There are different stories about what led to its demise. Some say it was the icing on the wings or the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank.
The simple things to know are that the weather wasn’t pleasant, and they ran out of gas. Luckily the crew survived. The plane was not so fortunate. Since then, the structure has been fighting a losing battle against the ever-present elements.
Finding The Parking Lot
If you are driving from Reykjavik going East on Route 1, you are in the area once you see exit 221 on your left. Continuing on about 2 km, you will need to be alert and start looking for the parking lot on the right. If you arrive at road 219, you have gone too far and must turn back around.
You’ll see cars off on the side of the road in a parking area. The DC-3 plane wreck is on private land, and vehicles are not allowed access. I have heard that now you can rent bikes and quads to spare you the walk. These would be timesavers for sure. I did it the old-school way.
First of all, please do come prepared. Have enough layers to keep you warm. The weather conditions change rapidly in Iceland. In addition, it is always a good idea to have something waterproof that can offer comfort from the wind. A small day bag or backpack could carry those items, and your snacks, water, cameras, and a cell phone. Finally, don’t forget to stay hydrated, have something to drink on hand.
A Walk Into Nothing
Trudging along a marked path, it looks as if you are walking into nothing. All you see is desolate, empty land. There are no apocalyptic signs of carnage or sights to behold until you are near the coast. This part is fairly boring and uneventful. If you have a friend with you, it’s a great time for conversation. If walking solo, perhaps a podcast or music to fill the time.
Once there, you will finally see the wreckage of the abandoned plane. It’s perched upon this eerie moon-like landscape. It still rests where it fell from the sky over 40 years ago on the black sand beach. The contrasting colors could not be better for taking pictures with the airplane’s white skeleton surrounded by miles of black sand. If you’re lucky, the ultimate view will also have a green aura from the Northern Lights if you time it right.
What To Expect
The chances are excellent that you will not be alone. You will see people with tripods, drones, cell phones, and cameras taking photos. There will be people climbing up, inside, and walking around the wreck of this US Navy crash site.
Some will wait patiently and take turns to allow you to get that clear photograph, and others will be in the way. You might see some acting disrespectful and oblivious to what’s going on. But, you will also see people appreciating the area. Enjoying the moment. Thankful that they can see such a strange and different landmark.
Final Thoughts on Iceland’s DC-3 Plane Wreck
The DC-3 plane crash is not for everyone. Some might find the ordeal underwhelming. I could see this attributed to the long walk and having to deal with people once there. That might change now if there are quicker methods to get you out to the plane. If you are into photography, you would appreciate what the wreckage has to offer.
There are many sights to see in Iceland that are more accessible. For example, along the South coast alone, you can find stunning waterfalls, hiking trails, volcanic basalt columns, swimming areas, and so much more to fill your day. So, plan out what you want to see and explore ahead of time instead of stopping off at every location.
Have you been to Iceland before? Would you venture out to this abandoned plane or give it a pass?
As always, check out the blog for the latest content and new adventures.
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