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What Occurs When You Snorkel Between Tectonic Plates In Iceland

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Wanting over Silfra

I’d barely slept a wink. Partially as a result of I used to be excited, extra as a result of I used to be nervous. Very, very nervous.

Why? As a result of the following morning I’d be snorkeling Silfra, certainly one of Iceland’s prime sights. In winter. Leaping out of planes in New Zealand, swinging from canyons in Switzerland and climbing an energetic volcano in Nicaragua didn’t trigger me to lose a wink of shuteye; however make me bounce in water so chilly my face goes numb? It’s the stuff nightmares are manufactured from.

You’re most likely questioning, okay, so why’d you join the tour then? As a result of I do know that if I flip down a bucket checklist expertise — particularly one as particular as swimming in crystal waters between divergent tectonic plates — I’d kick myself later. Exhausting.

My tour information from Viking Adventures picked me up from my lodging, the ODDSSON Ho(s)tel, at 9am.

At this level I’d already peed six occasions having labored myself up into an anxious tizzy about not having the ability to go within the dry swimsuit.

The social foyer at The ODDSSON Ho(s)tel. Get 10% off with code “JESSIEONAJOURNEY”!

That is what I do once I’m anxious about one thing, like certainly one of my journey journeys; I begin questioning every part. What if it’s so chilly my physique freezes and I get so stiff I can’t swim? What if I didn’t deliver sufficient snacks and I get such dangerous starvation pains my head hurts and I can’t see underwater? What if it snows and I slip on a banana peel and a twister blows me away after which I break my leg?

See, that is the place my thoughts goes once I’m uneasy.

Fortunately, the 45-minute scenic drive to the snorkel spot is gorgeous sufficient to calm my nerves for a bit, the encircling snow-capped volcanoes quieting my thoughts. Plus, there’s some attention-grabbing folklore to ponder.

“You see that volcano forward? It’s believed there are two trolls that stay there which have 13 sons. To us they’re like Santa Clauses. They depart presents in our footwear main as much as Christmas.”

In reality, the story is much more attention-grabbing than that if you wish to study extra. Boiling youngsters in a cauldron is a part of the festive enjoyable. Plus, there’s a Christmas cat that eats kiddies that don’t obtain clothes as vacation presents. No joke!

Vistas from Þingvellir Nationwide Park’s Hakið viewpoint

Strolling by way of the Almannagjá fault inside Þingvellir Nationwide Park. A lot volcanic exercise!

Desk of Contents

  • Iceland Sights: Þingvellir Nationwide Park
  • Gearing Up For Silfra
  • Descending Into Silfra
  • Magnificence & Hardship
  • Coming Out Stronger

Iceland Sights: Þingvellir Nationwide Park

However sufficient about youngsters getting eaten by trolls. This Iceland journey information is supposed that will help you study snorkeling.

It takes about 45 minutes till we’re in Þingvellir Nationwide Park, certainly one of Iceland‘s must-visit sights and the place Silfra is. Silfra, that means “silver,” is the glacial water fissure the place you may snorkel between two continents — North America and Eurasia! It’s right here the place the tectonic plates of the 2 continents divide, and you may truly contact each on the similar time in a single spot referred to as The Large Crack (no less than, that’s what the divers let you know).

It really works like this: as soon as upon a time ice melted from a glacier exterior of Þingvellir Nationwide Park, working with a river into Þingvallavatn Lake. Shortly after, close by Skjaldbreidur Volcano erupted, inflicting a lava blockage within the river. Hearth and ice united, and now now we have Silfra, a stunning fissure with visibility reaching over 100 meters.

Together with visibility and sweetness, Silfra is understood for its low temperatures, which keep round 2-3 °C (~35.6-37.4 °F) 12 months spherical. Though the solar is shining now it doesn’t make it any hotter. Plus that is Iceland. In winter. Something can occur at any minute.

Gearing Up For Silfra

We park in lots with different snorkel and dive corporations getting equipped for the journey. That is once we study Rule #1 of snorkeling Silfra: no peeing within the dry swimsuit.

“It wouldn’t be intelligent both as you’d be peeing in your garments,” smirks my information. “There’s a rest room on this lot I recommend you utilize proper now.”

Gearing as much as snorkel Silfra

Lovely views from Silfra’s parking zone

Whereas divers put on moist fits to allow them to dip beneath the water’s floor, snorkelers usually put on dry fits, which maintain you dry and buoyant.

The rationale the information suggests we use the bathroom ahead of later is that as soon as the dry swimsuit is on, it’s on. I imply, this factor is reallyyyyy laborious to take off.

Really, the funniest a part of the day is stepping into the gear. We begin by layering up beneath with lengthy johns and thermals. Then comes a puffy overall-like garment for additional heat. Subsequent is when it will get comical. Getting into the rubbery dry swimsuit isn’t like placing on pair of pants; it’s like squeezing into a toddler’s Halloween costume. And as soon as we add the rubber hoods, all of us appear like large fish. Add the snorkeling masks, fins and neck tighteners (so water doesn’t get in) and the group might actually be served on ice at a seafood market.

Descending Into Silfra

“On ice” is the important thing phrase right here, and as we transfer nearer to the steps that descend into Silfra’s clear waters my heartbeat quickens.

On ice…on ice…on ice…

Slowly, I take every step one after the other, making an attempt to give attention to the shining solar and surrounding volcanoes. As an alternative, my thoughts focuses on my toes resulting in what seems like a sudden chilly dying.

“Don’t be scared,” smiles my information. “You’ll be fantastic. Solely your palms and face will get chilly. And the surroundings can be so lovely you received’t even really feel it.”

I gulp. It’s time. My flippers start dipping down into the water. And when the black rubber breaks the floor I need to screa…

Hmmm, that’s odd. Nothing. 

I step in a bit farther.

Nonetheless nothing. 

Once I’m absolutely floating, I’m stunned to seek out myself nonetheless dry — and fairly heat, too!

A lot to see whereas snorkeling Silfra

Snorkeling Silfra

And mesmerized. The visibility is the perfect I’ve ever seen on my travels, with each colour, form and algae sample vividly clear. Actually, a few of the rocks virtually appear to have avenue underwater artwork on them in loopy designs.

I could have discovered Banksy’s subsequent mural spot. 

I really feel like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, an entire underworld canyon showcasing caves, slender passageways and slender tunnels stuffed with Mars-like rock formations. There are not any fish — I’m instructed they come out at night time — however I’m nonetheless in awe.

Don’t I look snug? (not)

It’s like I’m Ariel in “The Little Mermaid”

The pictures got here out with a blue tint, however in actuality the waters have been crystal clear

Magnificence & Hardship

For me the toughest half isn’t the chilly like I count on, however the dry swimsuit and the way buoyant it makes me. You possibly can’t go beneath the floor irrespective of how laborious you strive, and at occasions swimming above it feels awkward, although I get used to it.

Observe: This tour is nowhere close to as laborious as, say, summiting Nicaragua’s Concepcion Volcano or downhill mountain biking Colorado‘s Winter Park Resort; nonetheless, it’s actually difficult. For individuals who have by no means worn a dry swimsuit it’s very constricting, and somebody on my tour even finally ends up leaving the water early as they begin panicking that the swimsuit choking them. In the event you’re not a robust swimmer there’s a average present to swim towards, too, and also you’ll must navigate slender tunnels. At no level am I ever scared, however I’m additionally an honest swimmer and am actually good at reminding myself to breath. I’m not saying this to scare you; simply to remind you that that is greater than a laid-back Caribbean snorkel.

Getting into the lagoon of Silfra

A lot texture

Immersed in Iceland’s volcanic exercise

Probably the most lovely part of the Silfra fissure is an space referred to as The Cathedral, a shocking underwater wonderland stretching 100 meters lengthy and reaching depths of 20 meters. Right here I see lava rock partitions, dramatic sand pillars and an limitless flooring of damaged jagged rock. It’s ruggedly beautiful, and spills out into a giant lagoon with limitless views. These vistas are each above and beneath the floor (once more, we’re in a Nationwide Park). I’d been afraid the 20 minutes — or 300 meters — within the water can be an excessive amount of, but it surely truly seems like solely 10.

I spend some additional time swimming earlier than getting out to peel (learn: contort) myself out of my moist gear.

Strolling again to get heat after snorkeling Silfra

On the finish of the tour I wait in line once more for the lavatory, this time with out anxiousness flowing by way of my veins. A gaggle of 5 new snorkelers stands in line behind me, shaking with the identical trepidation I had lower than an hour in the past.

“Is it scary?” asks one wide-eyed brunette.

“Don’t be scared,” I smile. “You’ll be fantastic. Solely your palms and face will get chilly. And the surroundings can be so lovely you received’t even really feel it.”

Professional Tip: Have some additional time? Do the brief 15-minute hike by way of Almannagjá fault and soak up expansive aerial views of the realm from Hakið viewpoint.

  • Water / Snacks
  • Tights
  • Lengthy underwear (a backside to go over the tights and a prime)
  • Leggings (to go over the tights and lengthy underwear)
  • Looser sweater to go over this (a small hood is okay, however you’ll must tuck it tight)
  • GoPro with underwater housing and waterproof monopole (I wasn’t ready to make use of my headstrap with all of the gear)

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