Exploring Iceland in a VW Camper – Day 4
Sunday 10th of September, 2017
We woke up at 4:30am so we get be at the DC-3 plane in Sólheimasandur for sunrise. We had made this plan the previous day after talking with some individuals who said that it was really busy and they recommending making sure to get there early. We figured if we were going to get there early, we might as well get there for the sunrise. It was a 20 minute drive from our campsite in Vik to the plane access location and a one hour walk from the road to the plane (one way). It was really dark and we had a hard time finding where to go while driving. As it turns out, there is a relatively new access point to the plane that you need to take. Most blogs online talk about a farmer’s gate and path but that is not the case anymore. We drove up to a farmer’s gate and there was a sign that said there was a different access site down the road. There is actually a large fenced off parking lot you can park at now to access the plane. We had seen this parking area in the daylight the day before (it was packed full of cars) and we wished we had put a Google Maps pin when we saw it because it would have been a lot easier to find. In the dark, without all the cars parked, we kept passing it. We eventually found it after about 20 extra minutes driving around. So our tip for finding the plane or in general: first download Google Maps in offline mode on your phone. While cell phone service is generally really good in Iceland, we kept losing service in this specific region by the plane, most likely because it was mountainous. Second tip: if you see something in the day that you want to see, put a pin on your map so you can find it again later, day or night.
The path to get to the plane is an easy walk and clearly marked off. We walked pretty fast because we were a little behind schedule and didn’t want to miss the sunrise. Wear good shoes because it is rocky and uneven, but long and flat which makes it not so hard. Even though it was dark, it was very desolate like and again felt like we were on Mars. We kept walking thinking we would see the plane anytime and that an hour walk was just an overestimate…nope, definitely an hour walk! It appears that they are actually building a road directly to the plane with a parking lot very near the plane. The “road” we walked down was staked out and at the end of the path were stakes in a big square that looked like an outline of a future parking lot. We hope that is not the case because we think the hour walk deters people, but a lot of people still go with the long walk! If there is a road and parking lot put in, you can bet it will be off the hook busy. Maybe the “road” and “parking” was put there for Dierks Bentley or Justin Beiber’s music videos…who knows?
Read more: Music videos filmed in Iceland
We were at the plane for about 30 minutes before the next group of people showed up. It was still before sunrise when the group of about four arrived. The new group that joined us were all photographers all there for the same reason: to get some good photos of the plane with the sunrise and no people in the way! One of the photographers was from England and he said this was his fourth time to Iceland and this time was the busiest from a tourist perspective. We walked down to the ocean too after we got our photos and that took about 15 more minutes (one way). When we left the plane around 8:30am we passed about eight more people (four groups) coming in.
After we left the plane, we made an unplanned stop at Dryholaus and Dýrhólaey. Dýrhólaey was very cool and we wanted to stay longer but we really needed to get back to the camp at Vik and take a nap because we were exhausted.
We got back to the camp and ate some breakfast and took an hour and a half nap. The VW camper Van worked out great for a nap because it was quiet and we could block out the sunlight with the window shades. We were napping right in prime time when everyone was waking up and getting around, but we slept great. From there, we went to Fjaðrárgljúfur. We didn’t spend much time here despite its beauty. The blogs we had read said that there were multiple ways to get into the canyon and river but we could not find a (legitimate) way to get down to the canyon. There were some people down in the river area, but we don’t know how they got down there. They are building paths and roping this area off quite a bit so our guess is that they have roped off the trails to get you down into the canyon, but some more research may yield some details on how to really explore this area more. There were some trails that went further up the ravine, but the ropes stopped so we weren’t sure if we should keep walking, or if it was “off limits.” The walkways though allowed you to get some pretty good shots overlooking the valley.
While we were hearing, and at all of the places we visited, we were following all the guidelines to protect the natural beauty of the country, but some areas like Fjaðrárgljúfur that are in the middle of becoming more restrictive made it hard to figure out where you should and should not go. We would definitely recommend reading up on this area more on some newer blogs to see how to maximize your time at this area.
From Fjaðrárgljúfur we headed to Skaftafell National Park where we were going to camp for the night. We stopped and got our camping passes and shower passes…yes, shower passes. This was the first time we had to pay for a shower: $5 USD for five minutes! In case you were wondering, five minutes is barely enough time when you only shower every other day.
Before are dinner and showers, we took a walk up to Svartifoss to see the lava columns. We were really looking forward to seeing this unique waterfall and found ourselves really fascinated by the hexagonal shapes of the columns. We read that during the lava’s cooling, the rocks broke at 120 degree corners, which is nature’s most efficient way to relive stress. Mind…blown.
After our short walk to Svartifoss, we headed back for dinner and some showers. We had planned to sit out and eat but the rain came so we had to eat inside the camper.
Day 4’s weather was partly cloudy with light rain at dinner and through the evening.
Read more: Survival guide to Campervanning in Iceland
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