Iceland Winter Adventures: Ice Caves and Airplane Wrecks
With only a few days until my first trip to Iceland, I’ve been browsing through Ashlyn George’s travel blog, The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World for tips on the things to do in Iceland. From unusual Icelandic cuisine to speaking Icelandic, I love her travel stories, videos and adventurous spirit. Since I’m heading to Iceland in May, I’ll miss out on all the fun winter activities in Iceland like chasing the Northern Lights and snowmobiling but I figured that this would be a great opportunity to invite Ashlyn to share a few highlights from her Iceland winter trip.
As an avid adventure traveler who has traveled to 60 countries and all 7 continents, Ashlyn couldn’t wait to experience all that Iceland had to offer. She spent 18 days exploring Iceland and drove over 2,485 miles (4,000 kilometers) in the middle of winter!
Here are two highlights from her epic winter trip to Iceland.
Iceland Winter Adventures
Only accessible by 4×4 super jeep.
Iceland is a geographically striking country with dramatic landscapes. It’s an otherworldly destination that offers endless adventures even in the winter.
Since ice caving only occurs in the wintertime, I joined a tour group to explore the Vatnajokull Glacier. Strapping on a safety helmet, a pair of crampons (for grip on the ice) and my camera, my small group hiked to the high walls of the glacier.
Exploring the ripply, sapphire-blues caves.
Only a week earlier, the “Broken Blue Cave” which we were now exploring was renamed the “Sapphire Ceiling” – its coloring was brilliant.
Thanks to Iceland’s shifting weather, the cloudy and snowy day actually enhanced the blue ice in the cave. Our guide described the shades of blue as the most amazing colors you can get, and as if on cue, snow started falling from the sky.
After spending more than an hour taking photos and videos inside the cave, we hiked back to the super jeep for a bumpy ride back to the Ring Road. For more, you can check out my video footage – the blue is stunning!
Related: Snorkeling Between the Shifting Tectonic Plates at Silfra
The next morning I traveled 248 miles (200 kilometers) west to visit an abandoned DC-3 cargo airplane wreck.
Sitting on the black sand beach of Solheimasandur, the U.S. Navy airplane crashed in 1973. The wreckage has been sitting there for over 45 years. Remarkably, the crew survived the impact but the exact reason for the crash is a mystery. They say the plane ran out of fuel after the pilot switched to the wrong fuel tank.
In typical Icelandic fashion, several inches of white powdery snow dusted the ground the night before which made the drive to the wreck questionable. Deciding it was worth the risk, I pushed my Subaru rental through the snow (and sand road underneath) until I could see a glimpse of gray standing out in the white.
Inside the 1973 U.S. Navy Douglas Super DC-3 cargo plane crash in Iceland.
The wreckage was as interesting as I had hoped!
With no other tourists around, I took my time walking from the back of the plane to the cockpit. I even peered out the glass-less windows.
Twice in two days the snow worked in my favor and gave me the perfect Iceland winter backdrop. For more, you can check out video footage from the abandoned plane wreck.
From exploring the sapphire-blue caves to battling the weather, all these things made my Iceland winter trip unforgettable.
About Ashlyn George: A supposed-to-be high school teacher turned full time world traveler, Ashlyn has explored 60 countries across 7 continents solo. With travel opportunities like flying military jets with the Canadian Air Force to driving her own dog sled team, no adventure is too crazy. Clearly an adrenaline junkie addicted to the outdoors, Ashlyn writes about her adventures on The Lost Girl’s Guide to Finding the World.
Danielle Desir Corbett paid off $63,000 of student loan debt in 4 years, bought a house at 27, and has traveled to 27 countries, including her favorites, Iceland, China, and Bermuda. Go here to learn Danielle’s incredible story, from struggling financially and in debt to finding creative ways to earn more and live on her terms. Listen to The Thought Card Podcast, where Danielle shares how you can creatively travel more and build wealth regardless of your current financial situation. Reach out to Danielle by contacting: thethoughtcard (at) gmail (dot) com.
Wow, I have never read about these caves, so it was definitely interesting! Are you sure 200 km are 248 miles? Probably a bit more? :))) Btw, you should try the Hákarl while in Iceland, but have at least two pints of beer to wash it away!
I think I will have to pass on the Hákarl, but I will be drinking some beer!
Beer is probably even better :)) Have fun!
Ahhh Danielle, you’re killing me with these Iceland posts. I MUST GO!! Seriously, mark my words…next year even if I have to not travel till then then. Work more, save more, visit Iceland. Beautiful pictures btw.
I love that mantra! Work more, save more, visit XYZ. Did you say you won a trip?
Oh wow that ice cave is so so pretty. I’d love to visit Iceland in both the winter and the summer. Winter for those awesome ice caves and for the Northern Lights!
I love the ice caves and can’t wait to visit Iceland. It seems asi f everyone has visited except me!
We just went to Iceland and visited the plane wreck at Solheimasandur, I wish we could have seen some caves. The photos are just breathtaking. It must be hard to hike the caves and take photos while taking in the beauty all at the same time!