Snorkeling in Glacial Melt between Continents: Silfra Rift, Iceland

Snorkeling in extreme bluish freezing melted glacier water with extreme clarity - Silfra Rift at Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Snorkeling in extreme bluish freezing melted glacier water with astonishing clarity – Silfra Rift at Thingvellir National Park, Iceland

Silfra Rift is a crack in the earth caused by the tectonic drift of the American and Eurasian continents moving apart by around 2cm every year. Snorkeling in the rocky fissure was a surreal experience and absolute freezing madness too! The melted glacial water had extreme visibility of more than 100m and it was really freezing cold at around 2 degree celsius. The water was also so beautifully clear and blue that it looked unreal.

The reason why water in the Silfra Rift is so clear and pure is that it actually originated from a glacier around 50km away and is filtered for a long time through lava fields before finally reaching. We were told by the dive instructor that there is not much life in the Silfra Rift and hence not to expect fishes swimming around.

Snorkeling at Silfra was actually our first pitstop of the Golden Circle road trip which covers Þingvellir (Thingvellir) National Park, Geysir and Gulfoss waterfall. We booked our snorkeling trip with DIVE.IS the day before and set out early in the morning in our rented 4WD to reach Thingvellir’s Tourist Information Centre at 9am where we will be meeting the dive group. As we had our own transportation, we received a discount and the snorkel costed ISK 12,990 per person (original price ISK 14,990) – how nice! 🙂 Preparations were simple on our end, basically all the snorkeling gear and dry suits were provided and all we needed to prepare was warm inner clothing and thick socks.

For people who have never worn a dry suit before, O.M.G. it is such a bitch to put it on!! It was basically a giant wrestle between me, my hair and the dry suit. Well, man won in the end after a VERY tough fight.

All geared up in dry suits and ready to plunge in freezing waters

All geared up in dry suits and ready to plunge in freezing waters

Being the morning group, there were many other dive companies there for the Silfra as well. For people who want a peaceful dive in summer, DIVE.IS also runs an evening trip which takes advantage of the Icelandic midnight sun.

Wearing the dry suit took up a lot of energy!

Wearing the dry suit took up a lot of energy!

A very blah view of SIlfra from the top, a far cry from the magic blue in the water

A very blah view of SIlfra from the top, a far cry from the magic blue in the water

Being covered in dry suits with only face exposed, we will be kept dry (assuming dry suit works) and while we were given head hoods and gloves, these parts were wet suits and hence we were told not to freak out when we felt the icy water on our head and hands *GULP*. Tip given was to keep our hands still and not flap it around as large movements will cause cold water to flow in and out of the gloves.

Taking a deep breath, we took the plunge in the icy glacial melt.

Steps to enter the Silfra Rift

Steps to enter the Silfra Rift

(Disclaimer: all photos are originals and unedited. Colours were taken in their natural state with no filters applied 🙂 )

Mask up, head in the water… and… WOW…  *speechless*

Deep blue crack right below my flippers

Deep blue crack right below my flippers

Rocky, magical and blue

Rocky, magical and blue

Surrounded by unbelievable magic

Surrounded by unbelievable magic

The clarity of the water was unbelievable and I felt that I was teleported into a wonderful, eerily cold underwater world. The water looked so pure that I couldn’t resist drinking a small mouthful – tastes like Evian! 😛

It wasn’t hard snorkeling in single file in the rift as there was a gentle current pushing and helping us along.

There was also really not much life in the narrow rocky fissure with the exception of neon green algae.

Incredible hulk greenish algae

Incredible hulk greenish algae

The deepest part of Silfra was known to be around 68m and some parts were so shallow that we were using our hands to scrape ourselves across the rocks.

Shallow parts of the Silfra

Shallow parts of the Silfra

One of the deeper parts

One of the deeper parts

More neon greenish strands of algae

More neon greenish strands of algae

Hello, that's me! Unidentifiable with all that gear

Hello, it’s me! Unidentifiable with all that gear

We approached the end of the crack and turned into the shallow Silfra Lagoon where the water opens out to a wide area and visibility was so good that we could see right till the edges.

Silfra Lagoon

Silfra Lagoon

Silfra Lagoon

Silfra Lagoon

Hey, Icelandic starfish!

Hey, Icelandic starfish!

We swam till the end of the lagoon where we exited and walked back to where we started. Boy, it was freezing cold even in the Icelandic summer!

View from the surface where snorkelers are swimming in single file along the crack

View from the surface where snorkelers are swimming in single file along the crack

We reached the starting point of the rift and were invited to take a leap of faith into the freezing cold!

Jump into the cold waters @.@

Jump into the cold waters @.@

That concludes the magical swim in between two continents.

I yearned for a warm drink and the exposed part of my face felt really numb.

Blue can be really beautiful 🙂

 

Underwater camera used: Olympus Tough TG-2

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