A visit to the Sólheimasandur DC-3 plane wreck in southern Iceland
Sitting alone on a deserted beach near the town of Vik in Southern Iceland lie the remains of a plane that crashed on 24 November 1973. This wrecked DC-3 plane on Sólheimasandur Black Sand Beach has become a popular tourist attraction as people get to hear about it when scouting places to visit on the ‘Golden Circle’ trip around Iceland. Upon learning about the plane wreck prior to my trip to Iceland, and seeing the spectacular photo’s that people have uploaded, I was determined to visit the site.
Getting to the Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck
I discovered that visiting the plane requires a 5 mile / 8 kilometer round-trip walk from the parking area alongside the highway. Unfortunately direct access to the site has been blocked by the owners of the property due to previously misbehaving tourists. Not wanting to risk the weather (walking that distance in possible cold wind and rain) but, more importantly, due to time constraints, I decided to do the quad-biking tour arranged by Arcanum Tours. I discovered that the tour goes right to the plane wreck as part of the extended tour on the Black Beach.
The quad-bike tour only spends 20 minutes or so at the plane wreck. Unfortunately that was too short for the amount of photo’s that I usually like to take. But I still managed to climb onto the plane (see later, but don’t tell anyone that I told you about this) and get some great photo’s in the process.
The ‘magnificence’ of the plane wreck is testament to the safe landing that the pilot managed to execute all those years ago, saving the lives of all passengers. Although a lot of the plane has been removed, or has deteriorated in the harsh weather conditions, there is still more than enough left of it to understand the skill that was involved in landing the plane safely on the black beach.
Climbing onto the DC-3 plane wreck
Far be it from me to suggest climbing onto the roof of plane. However, if this is really what interests you then what you should do is go around to the back left side of the plane. There you will find ‘footholds’ that have been cut into the fuselage. You can use these footholds to climb onto the plane’s roof, pulling yourself up with the higher footholds. The roof is still reasonably strong and was safely able to support my weight. However, over the years this may change so you take your own chances if this is what you decide to do.
My visit to the DC-3 plane wreck was a highlight of my trip to Iceland, despite only being there for such a short time. Do yourself a favor and include a visit to the plane in your travel plans. Whether you choose to do so on foot from the car park alongside the highway or as part of the quad-bike tour, you will not be sorry. You will have some great photo’s to show for your efforts.
How do I get to the DC-3 plane wreck in Iceland?
For reference purposes, relevant GPS coordinates are as follows:
The parking lot alongside the highway:
N63° 29.474, W19° 21.797
The DC-3 plane wreck on the Sólheimasandur Black Sand Beach:
N63° 27.492, W19° 22.418