Sólheimasandur Plane Wreck: A Marvel in the Middle of Nowhere

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‘Beauty emerging from chaos’ can be the right term to describe this abandoned attraction in south Iceland. A United States Navy plane crashed on the black beach of Sólheimasandur, on the south coast of Iceland, in 1973. The cause of the crash is still undetermined but there are many speculations and theories about the same including mechanical failures, pilot error, and thunderstorm. The most popular one to date is that plane crashed as it ran out of fuel. The popular opinion is that the pilot accidentally switched to the wrong fuel tank of the plane which was incidentally already empty. Luckily, there were no casualties reported in the crash. The accident left a wreckage of the plane on the site of the crash which has been lying in the same spot for all these years and has become a very popular tourist spot in the south attracting a lot of history buffs and photographers.

A Surreal Monochromatic Landscape

The white body of the wreckage of the plane creates a stark contrast with the pitch-black sand of the beach which serves as a great gig for professional photographers. The wreckage is in the middle of nowhere in literal terms which makes it a bit difficult to get there especially if you are new to Iceland and do not have someone well aware of the land with you. But once you are there you will find that every set of troubles or mild inconveniences faced getting there is worth it.

Sólheimasandur plane wreck has become a site for many things over the years. It was initially used as storage by the farmer on whose land the plane crashed. Later local hunters started using it as target practice as well which created many holes in the wreckage. Now that the place is widely known for its beauty, tourists line up no-stop, even during the offseason. The site is so beautiful and bizarre at the same time that it attracts a lot of attraction from filmmakers from all across the world. When visiting the site, you are free to roam around the crashed plane, get inside the plane, or play some shooting games.

snow falling at Solheimasandur Plane Wreck in south Iceland

How to get to Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

There used to be a time when it was allowed to drive straight up ahead to the wreckage site in your 4×4 vehicle. But now, all kinds of vehicles are completely banned from going further after a certain point on to the black sand beach. Tourists and visitors have to walk up to about 4 kilometers before they can finally reach the site now. Driving is now prohibited on the beach because the vegetation in that area is very fragile and was ruined by inexperienced drivers who were handling the wheel in Iceland for the first time. Moreover, many vehicles were reported stuck or damaged when driving to the site. As a result of this, first private vehicles were banned from entering. It is possible to book a ride on a truck that goes back and forth to the plane wreck every hour.

It is also possible to book an ATV or fat bike tour that will take you to the plane wreck. 

Drive up to Skógafoss waterfall and move a bit further in the same direction until you cross river Jökulsá. After a minute or two, you will be able to spot the fence that marks the starting of the beach. This is where you park your vehicle and start moving on foot. There is no sure shot map or direction sign to the place so make sure that you either have a good, working GPS or someone well aware of the landscape.

The Right Time to Visit

There is no “better” time to visit the Sólheimasandur plane wreck but it is recommended to choose the summer season for your trip. While the landscape is every bit beautiful in winters as well, it is even more difficult to navigate and reach the site in the snow. Bad weather and high-speed winds hit even worse in Sólheimasandur black sand beach because of the open landscape. So, make sure that the day is bright with little to no forecast of rain, wind, thunderstorm, or snow when you visit this epic tourist spot. However, the sight has been extremely popular among photographers who are capturing the northern lights dancing over the plane wreck. 

Solheimasandur plane wreck on Solheimasandur black sand beach in south Iceland

Map of Solheimasandur Plane Wreck

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