I must say that I have snorkelled and dived in many places all over the world, from the Caribbean to South East Asia, Africa and even Australia, but never had I done it in almost freezing water while in a dry suit. This experience was my first, making me feel very adventurous indeed! I was ready for Silfra!
I woke up at 7 am, in total darkness, getting a glimpse at the snow covering the streets of Reykjavik. My pulse started to race, today is the day! It is snowing, -10 degrees, I am in Iceland and I am about to go snorkelling in almost freezing water. Did someone dare me to do it or did I actually volunteer at a moment of insanity?
I enjoyed a delicious hearty breakfast made by my hosts, full of energy for the big day ahead. As I was getting ready, my excitement started to grow; thermal clothes on, extra warm layers on, check-list ticked, gloves on, wool hat on, big warm socks (3 pairs!) on. I won’t have cold feet today, I am ready for my big adventure!
Our guide picked each of us up at our location. We were a small group of only 6 guests, two young American couples, a middle-aged British woman, and me. We started driving out of Reykjavik while still dark. I marvelled at the stunning light of the Sun gently rising above the snow peaked mountains.
Our guide was super friendly and knowledgeable which made us all feel very comfortable. His sense of humour allowed our group bond very quickly. On the way we started to learn more about; Iceland, Iceland´s geology, the Thingvellir National Park, and of course Silfra. Silfra is extraordinary in that it is the site of a natural phenomenon where two tectonic plates from different continents drift and create a massive underwater crack.
We had to keep our thermal and warm clothes on and were also given a thermal suit as well as a dry suit. With the help of the lovely crew, and after lots of pushing and sweating, we finally managed to get in the tight suit. I could feel the GoreTex tight around my wrists and neck (boots are integrated to the suit). I thought, water won’t come in, that is for sure!
We then put our diving hoods on, and I finally understood what being a penguin must feel like. I then waddled slowly for 100 metres towards the pontoon platform while carrying our semi-dry gloves, snorkeller, mask and fins.
This stage required assistance with cleaning the snorkel and putting on our fins. As you can imagine, our range of movement was a bit restricted. They warned us that the only parts of the body that would get wet were our hands and face.
Note to self: No matter how beautiful it looks, do no smile or water will come in!
…And the Silfra dry suit snorkelling experience begins
The water wasn’t actually as cold as I had anticipated. It was -10 degrees outside but the water was between 2 to 3 degrees. My hands did get wet, but I got used to it very quickly and forgot about the cold as I was too busy being mesmerised by the beauty of my surroundings. I couldn’t believe the water’s deep blue colour and perfect visibility, or the strange rock shapes and canyon-like rock formations. I got to touch both continents as I was passing through the massive crack. I even got to drink what is considered to be the purest water on earth, as it travels for almost 100 years underground and is naturally treated by volcanic minerals! What an experience!
Swimming in this environment in complete peace, feels very meditative and relaxing, and yet thrilling and exciting. It is difficult to describe the combination of emotions one experiences during this time. While they transport me, I feel humble and impressed by the power of nature.
After the experience, they welcomed us with a delicious offering of hot chocolate, to warm us up and cookies.
We had plenty of time to change back in our clothes and have a wander around before heading back.
The journey home was the perfect opportunity to reflect on the amazing experience. I tried to remember the last time I had done anything as extraordinary. Despite my adventurous life, not a single experience came to mind. Snorkelling in Silfra will forever be one of the greatest highlights of my life.
Are you hooked already? For more details see here.
Post by Celine Fortin, Head of Product