Following on from Camper Van adventures Part 1 we had arrived at Vik in the South of Iceland. Vik is a great place to base yourself for a couple of days due to its proximity to the waterfalls that we visited the day before which you can read about in the blog above, the dramatic coastline including The Pinnacles and the famous plane wreck which I will talk about shortly.
The Pinnacles, Vik
Rising early we headed to The Pinnacles for sunrise. The sky was another lovely shade of grey again and the sea was still pounding from the storms that were still rolling across Iceland. There was a brief window of light for about 1 minute just before I got hit by a rogue wave. The waves are very deceptive in Iceland.
A thick foam crawls up the beach with each wave so you think you are safe but behind the foam is sometimes a hidden wall of water. Luckily I was wearing my trusty gumboots. They filled up with ice cold water and my foot was frozen within 30 seconds but at least I didn’t have wet soggy shoes for the next few days! The gumboots dried out within an hour of being in our warm van.
Luckily I saw the wave coming just in time to grab my camera and run. Once safely out of reach of the wave I was desperately trying to get my gumboots off to free my feet from the ice cold water.
After screaming at hubby to help me get them off he finally pulled my feet free and I ran to the van in dripping wet stripy socks. Once in the van I put my feet in front of the heater and replaced the wet socks with a fresh dry pair! My ordeal was over! As I went back down to the beach I saw a German lady get hit by a wave that went over the top of her and all over her camera.
She raced back to her car and was furiously checking over her camera. We did run into her another two times in Iceland and she assured us that her camera was ok!
The Secret Waterfall
After breakfast we headed back down the road to the hidden waterfall that the Spanish photographer had told us about on the previous day. It right next to Seljalandsfoss which was a 45 minute drive from Vik. The weather was grey and raining which is actually perfect for photographing waterfalls! Once we reached the car park we put our gumboots on as you have to walk through a creek to get to this secret waterfall and we walked right passed Seljandfoss until we reached the end of the walking track.
After walking down a slippery mud track we found the opening to the canyon and proceeded to walk through the creek to reach the dry ground inside the cave. It was an incredible sight to see with the water bucketing down and some beautiful diffused light shining through. We were immediately soaking wet after about 2 minutes from the amount of spray coming off the waterfall. It was a bit of a mission to get a clear shot without water spray all over the lens but I managed to snap off a few! Now, I say that this waterfall is secret which I think may have been the case not so long ago but there were quite a few people that followed us into the cave to taken the token selfie on the rock so I don’t think its so secret anymore.
A great little lunch spot
After having enough of being soaking wet we headed back to the van to get the wet gear off. One important thing to remember if you are going to Iceland in Winter, make sure all your outer clothes are waterproof. It rains a lot!
Then we headed back down the road towards Skogafoss waterfall again as I wanted to capture a different perspective of it this time. I was hoping that I may have been able to catch a rainbow in front of it as it was midday but no such luck of the skies clearing that day.
Once we turned off the ring road to head down to the car park we noticed a food van called Mia’s Country Grill. It was setup in the front yard of one of the 5 houses near Skogafoss. They were selling local fish and chips and I was starving. It was freezing too so this was perfect timing plus it gave us extra time for our clothes to dry in front of the heater. Cafes and restaurants are rare in this part of Iceland so this was a great find. It was absolutely delicious and I highly recommend it.
The story of the famous Plane Wreck
There were way too many people at Skogafoss and it was raining pretty hard so we decided to give it a miss and catch it on our way back through to Reykjavik in a few days time. So we headed back down the road towards Vik again to stop of at the famous plane wreck on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach.
On Saturday Nov 24, 1973 a United States Navy Douglas Super DC-3 airplane was forced to land on Sólheimasandur’s black sand beach in the south of Iceland after experiencing some severe icing.
All crew members survived the crash, but the airplane’s fuselage was abandoned. Now it is a photographer’s dream location. If you want to see the plane before it turned into a wreck click here.
This 40 year old weather beaten aircraft is one of Iceland most dramatic and iconic photography locations. It looks like a scene from an apocalyptic movie with the aircrafts wings and tail missing and holes all through it. There is wind, ice and sand damage from the harsh weather where it lies.
How not to get to the plane wreck!
The bleak weather really added to the eerie atmosphere surrounding this plane wreck. Getting to the wreck is a bit of a mission. You can drive down to it but you need a 4WD. The ground was wet and muddy and we didn’t want to get the van bogged. We have gotten plenty of cars bogged in Australia doing crazy things. I didn’t fancy doing it in these harsh conditions of Iceland! So we psyched ourselves up for the 4km walk across a black sand and pebble beach. I mean I’ve hiked 18km in a day before no dramas so how hard could this be?
Halfway into it I was starting to realise what a bad idea this was. Firstly I was in Iceland not a tropical rainforest. The wind was so strong you could hardly walk plus there was a snow storm every 10 minutes. When a snow storm comes through all you can do is put the hood up on your jacket and turn your back to the hail/snow. This prevents it being pelted at your face and then wait for it to pass. Walking in strong wind on uneven soft ground is quite a workout. I think it ended up taking two hours to finally reach the plane wreck!
The easy way to get to the plane wreck!
Once we finally reached the plane wreck we ran into the German photographer that got hit by the wave that morning. She was yelling at the Asian’s for climbing all over the plane wreck taking selfies. It was making me laugh so much. I snapped off some photos and then went looking for a lift back to the road. There was no way I was walking all that way back again. A lovely French photographer called Alexandre was camping in his car in front of the plane for the night in the hopes of catching the Northern lights over the wreck. We paid him 10 Euro to drive us back to the road. Even in the car it felt like a good 15 minute drive!
Directions to the plane wreckage:
If you are coming from Skogafoss it is a 9 minute drive or 9.3km towards Vik on the right hand side of the road. There are no signs marking it, just a small car park on the side of the road. Hopefully a few cars are parked there to let you know that is the spot.
Once you find the car park it is a 4km walk straight towards the ocean. If you have a 4wd I highly suggest using it to drive there!
If you are coming from Vik it is a 19 minute drive or 24.4km. It will be on the left hand side of the road.
Attack on the killer Icelandic Horses
Down the road we found a lovely spot to pull over with a beautiful view of a mountain. We set up camp there for the night. We didn’t realise that the road we had driven down was a property. After about 5 minutes all these horses started coming towards us. I quickly packed up the table and camp chairs and jumped back in the car just before they reached us. We were completely surrounded by the big beautiful horses. I didn’t realise at the time that they are very curious and love humans. They also probably thought that we had some food for them. I got a bit freaked out when one of the horses bumped into the back of the van. You can check out this video that makes me laugh every time I watch it!
After escaping the killer Icelandic horses we drove down a different road and found another beautiful spot to set up camp for the night. The van was is so warm and comfy to sleep in. It’s so much fun being able to see the stars and the night sky as you fall asleep.
Chasing the Northern Lights
The next morning we woke up at around 5am and could see the northern lights were out. They were faint but we could see them. We jumped in the front of the van and drove down the road to a cute little church that I had spotted in Vik. I really wanted to capture the lights above the church but by the time we got to the church there was too much light around to capture the aurora.
It was so windy and cold that morning that I was didn’t want to leave the comfort of our warm van. Sunrise was another grey sky so we had some breakfast, packed up and spent the day driving to Jokulsarlon. This was by far the scariest day we had in Iceland with a massive storm hitting the country and we drove right through the middle of it……..
You can continue reading about my Iceland adventures right here: Campervan Adventures Part 3
Have you been to Vik or the plane wreck on the beach before? I would love to hear what your expereince was like so leave a comment below!
Big thanks to Campervans Iceland for making this trip possible! If you want to explore Iceland in a camper van then definitely look these guys up! They are the best!
Fiskislóð 31 Reykjavík
TEL +354 5673000