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Posted by on Sep 30, 2015 | 0 comments

Silfra Snorkelling & Diving – Thingvellir, Iceland

Exiting the Cathedral area

Exiting the Cathedral area

We were hoping for a warm day for our diving trip, so were relieved after a wet and windy night when the skies were clear and blue for our drive back to Thingvellir National Park. In the end it was the warmest, sunniest day of our time in Iceland and amazing weather for diving.

Three different companies use the Silfra pools at Thingvellir, but I’d chosen Dive.Is as they set off earliest. Hopefully this would mean minimal disturbance to the silty river bed and therefore maximum visibility – supposedly over 100m in the clear glacial water.

The water is very clear throughout

The water is very clear throughout

Despite the sun the glacial water was unsurprisingly still cold so there was a long lecture on using dry suits which boiled down to don’t fill up your legs with air otherwise you’ll float upside down and be miserable. Seemed reasonable.

We met the dive company in the car park to collect our dry suits, flippers, masks, boots, gloves and air tanks. It was then a 150m walk to the water’s edge, which a few people struggled with due to the weight of all the equipment.

Another pep talk and warning about not scraping against the sides or bottom of the water channel and we could approach the entrance ramp to the lake. Again it was a bit tricky as a beginner to climb backwards down a ladder whilst wearing flippers but at least there was water at the bottom had I fallen.

Entering the water at Silfra

Entering the water at Silfra

I was first in, and despite being in the water could hear a few shrieks behind me as others entered the 2-4C cold water. I found the dry suit did its job perfectly and was comfortable throughout.

Snorkelling at Silfra

Snorkelling at Silfra

The water there has been filtered for up to 100 years, travelling 50km from Lángjökull through the lava and emerging under the water at Silfra with enough force to create a gentle current. It’s also fine to drink untreated.

The dive route winds through the rocks and crevasses, passing along the gap between the Eurasian and American tectonic plates, meaning we were diving between continents. At one narrow point it’s possible to touch both continents at the same time.

Looking down at the two tectonic plates

Looking down at the two tectonic plates

Touching the two tectonic plates at Silfra

Touching the two tectonic plates at Silfra

There were two dives followed by a battle to struggle out of the dry suits, which is rewarded by a welcome cup of hot chocolate.

Diving at Silfra

Diving at Silfra

Group shot of the divers

Group shot of the divers

Silfra Tips

We used Dive.is

And this was the route from Reykjavik to the dive site: Route

Follow their instructions carefully as the meeting point is at the lower visitor centre by the campsite rather than the one on top of the cliff (which is good as it sells food and drink, plus the campsite has free toilets).

During the dive, go slowly. The best part is the beginning and especially the middle around the Cathedral area. The lake at the end is far less spectacular, being mostly about the fluorescent green ‘troll hair’ grass.

If you have an underwater camera you can take it, or the dive staff will also take photos which can be purchased at the end. Our guys were great with the camera and included a collection of amazing publicity photos.

If you’re not keen on diving/snorkelling then it’s fine to walk alongside the route and watch the divers through the clear water.

The hot chocolate is wonderful!

The lake toward the end of the Silfra dive

The lake toward the end of the Silfra dive

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