“You’ll be in the water for about 30-40mins… trust me, that’s enough… you’ll be begging to get out”
It was a drizzly Thursday in Þingvellir National Park, South Iceland, and I was about to be plunged into water that sits just above freezing. Horrendous? Potentially. But I was here by choice, joining Dive.is to snorkel ‘Silfra’; the mid-Atlantic ridge, in glacier water filtered through rocks from nearby Langjökull, between the Eurasion and North American tectonic plates.
I was promised some of the clearest water in the world, crazy underwater scenery and a totally unique experience that you can’t have anywhere else in the world… But they weren’t beating around the bush about just how cold it was going to be. SO cold!
After our de-brief we were sent over to the changing tables. Getting Silfra-ready was an experience in itself! Having been diving, rafting and canyoning before, I was totally used to the pain-in-the-arse effort it takes to wriggle and stuff yourself into a sloppy tight wet suit. Dry suits though? Whoooole other ball game.
We had been told to prepare with thermals and woolen socks, but Dive.is also provided us with additional insulation in form of these adult romper suits; like a sleeping bags with arms and legs. Wasn’t going to win any fashion awards with it, but these things were utter genius! I need to trawl Amazon for one, too perfect for lazy winter not-leaving-the-house-days!
After the cosy onesie came the epic battle to get into the dry suit, which was like a wellington boot for the whole body. Fun!
Thighs and bum were the two areas which were fighting against the whole notion of me getting into this thing. Half a heart attack later, a lot of puffing, and more than a little help from the instructors, I was properly stuffed into the suit, zipped up, struggling to breathe and getting used to the lack of circulation in my wrists… all part of the experience!
Next came the neoprene gloves, dry suit hood, mask, flippers and to top it off, a neck strap (yes, a neck strap!) to seal any pesky gaps between the suit and your body. Feeling pretty uncomfortable, a little spaced out and thinking that this must be pretty close to how astronauts react to being in their moon-suits, our group waddled the short distance to the edge of Silfra.
Finally after a few more minutes of last minute prep (“spit in your goggles!”) and another warning “guys… it IS going to be really cold…”, we were then given access to explore the bright ultramarine underwater world of Silfra…
Seriously… when they say it’s unique, there really isn’t anything quite like this on earth.
But cold, oh so seriously cold!
My specially designed underwater ‘adventure proof, shock proof, temperature proof, you-name-it-proof’ camera conked out within seconds of it being in the water, so to give you a pretty damn good idea of what I saw, I have featured Dive.is’s photographs instead (all credit to them!). That startling bright blue water, that neon green algae, those musty orange rocks? All totally true to life and positively breathtaking.
After a few minutes my index finger and thumb decided they couldn’t take much more, and before long i’d totally lost all sensation in them, but with views that were out of this world, it was quite easy to be distracted from the discomfort.
The hardest thing was trying to direct yourself. To make any attempt at trying to swim anywhere, change direction or look behind you resulted in you looking like a floating weeble, bobbing along with legs and arms popping up at crazy angles; the dry suit was ultra-buoyant, and it was quite a strange thing to get used to.
“Relax! Take your time, and just float along!” our instructor encouraged.
She was right, in the end it was easier just to loosen up and let Silfra take you, like the coldest lazy river there ever was.
Before long, we’d reached the end of Silfra (just before my fingers were about to drop off, i’m sure!).
But honestly. Mind blowing. Indescribable.
It was completely crazy to be able to swim in this water that was almost as clear as air and witness a section of the earth that is ripping apart by a few centimeters year on year.
I think that’s what I love most about this country, Iceland reveals our planet as this vulnerable, ever changing, unpredictable, active ball of lava and rock… simultaneously showing us how perfectly natural and crazily weird our world is.
Ready to book your own Silfra tour?
Snorkeling in Silfra is a costly experience, but one that I would still, without a moments hesitation, recommend to anyone.
Our tour with Dive.is was fantastic; I truly had a once in a lifetime adventure, at one of the most unique dive sites in the world, and I’m so glad that I booked.
Price: 16,990 Icelandic Krona, inclusive of all suit hire, guide, entrance to the National Park and hot chocolate and cookies! Transfers to the meeting point at the National Park are extra.
You can book your tour with Dive.is HERE.
Although this may read like a sponsored post, Dive.is did not provide any discount or complimentary service to me. I had a great tour with Dive.is and all opinions, as always are completely my own.