An Unparalleled Icelandic Experience

As we traveled through the land of ice and fire, we experienced some incredible things. One of the coolest experiences we had was a guided ATV tour in Ytri Sólheimar. 

We booked the tour through a local company called Arcanum. Arcanum is known for their glacier walks on the Solheimajokull glacier, snowmobiling tours on top of the Myrdalsjokulll glacier, and ATV tours along the south coast of Iceland. They have a variety of tour packages to choose from, and some of them even include transportation from Reykjavik! 

Our ATV tour was led by an awesome guide named Bjarki. We started at the Arcanum base where we were given super unflattering (picture the Michelin man) but incredibly warm jumpsuits and helmets (some have GoPro mounts so don't forget yours in the car). We happened to go on our tour on the windiest, rainiest day during our time in Iceland, so this warm gear was a welcomed surprise. After we suited up, Bjarki and another member of the Arcanum crew gave us a quick safety lesson and tips for driving the ATVs before we hit the trail. 

Throughout the tour Bjarki stopped at several different locations so we could dismount the ATVs and take a few photos. He pointed out some of the notable things we could see from the black lava sand fields we were riding on (which derives from the dormant volcano Katla), like the Myrdalsjokull glacier. We drove down to the beach to the southernmost part of Iceland, the small peninsula Dyrholaey. We followed the coast to the DC-3 plane wreckage, an iconic, must-see spot. The wreckage is the result of a US Navy plane that was forced to land on the black sand beach due to severe icing in 1973. You can actually walk to the wreckage from the main road, but we learned the hard way that the walk down the rocky road is about 4km, or two and half miles. 

[PRO TIP: PAY for the ATV tour and drive out there instead. We walked to the wreckage the morning before our tour, and after 5 miles in the rain and 50mph winds we weren’t fully able to appreciate the abandoned wreckage.]

After spending a few minutes at the plane wreckage, we followed Bjarki across the beach, stopping to see the skeleton of a whale that had been on the beach for the last several years. We headed down to the river Jokulsa and followed that to the foot of a mountain that we followed back to the base. We drove through several parts of the river, stopping to drink fresh, clean water from a spring that was running down the mountain from the glacier. The last few minutes of the tour was one of the best parts - we took the ATVs through some pretty deep water right by the base. 

Back at base, we chatted with Filly at the reception area. She directed us to the Arcanum Glacier Cafe just a couple of kilometers (yes, we speak in KMs now because we're cultured) away. We spent some time at the cafe, drinking coffee and discussing our ATV adventure.

Arcanum offered a unique Icelandic experience that we wouldn’t be able to replicate on our own. The staff was so friendly and it was obvious that they loved sharing their knowledge and passion for their beautiful country. If you ever travel to Iceland, this is a can’t-miss opportunity. Thank you for the memories, Arcanum! 

Mason McCaskill