How many times do you get to swim between two tectonic plates?? Not many… I would assume. Unless you are lucky enough to live in Iceland. Then you can have multiple opportunities to swim, snorkel, dive in the continental divide.
But if you are like me and the rest of the world, then you only have once in a lifetime opportunity to experience this wonderful experience. If you are a thrill seeker like me or even if you are not, this should be on the top of your ‘to-do’ activities in Iceland. Where else are you going to get a chance to swim in 2º Celsius (35º F) water, get out alive and scream it to the rest of the world??? So add this to your bucket list for your dreamy Iceland trip.
Let me tell you a little about country and the Silfra fissure. Iceland is rightly called the land of fire and ice. The entire country was formed millions of years ago; thanks to volcanic eruptions. Every 3-4 years, they have a major volcanic eruption. Well… how can we forget the famous volcanic eruption in 2010 that no one could pronounce. Remember Eyjafjallajökull??? So easy to pronounce right?? By the way, I found a local person and practiced with him multiple times to say the name of this mountain, but still have difficulty. Anyway, so Iceland is special and unique. It is the only place where you can stand on both continental plates at the same time. And even more remarkable is the Silfra fissure.
The American and Eurasian tectonic plates, drift apart 2 cm every year and due to formation of various cracks and fissures from earthquakes and volcanic activities this Silfra fissure was formed. However, what makes Silfra different is that when it opened up it cracked through a fresh water spring and that’s why it is filled with the most crystal clear water that humankind can see in this age and time. This is a World Heritage site located within another World Heritage site- The Thingvellir national Park (again a good reason to snorkel).
As with all other activities in Iceland, make sure you book you tickets to the snorkeling activity in advance especially during summer time. In summer, the bookings get full really fast. We visited during shoulder season, but even then a lot of dates were full. We did the activity through a company called Troll Expeditions. We did all of our activities in Iceland through them, and we had the best experience. It is a relatively newer company, but definitely one of the best. They were less expensive than other companies and had great reviews. Even from the time we made the bookings, I had a great experience. They were very responsive providing all important information beforehand via emails. I had some questions and they were promptly answered literally at any time of the day when I emailed them. Our tour guide was Wesley. He is the funniest tour guide. And when I say funny, I mean he literally jumped right on to our picnic table face forward to show us how to swim with the fins!!! He helped us through the entire process of getting dressed for the activity-putting the double suits, hat, shoes, flippers, gloves. He was very patient with each and every one of us. He cracked a lot of jokes but was also serious and cautious about our safety. Extremely knowledgeable about the water conditions. Never once through the entire experience did he make us feel unsafe. He was very responsible and I would recommend him and Troll Expeditions very much for Silfra snorkeling. We briefly met some of his other team mates and they were all very professional but friendly too.
Our guide had moved to Iceland only a week before our Silfra tour so he was doing it only for a few days before he took us. But never once did we suspect it. We were surprised when he told us at the end of the tour. His professionalism, knowledge about the place was impeccable. Of course, all of us made it back alive and no one had to be rescued.
You have to be a good swimmer to participate in the snorkeling activity. Now I’ve mostly snorkeled in sea-water so I was a little skeptical about fresh water swimming as it provides less buoyancy. But the suits were so buoyant, we didn’t have to worry about floating. They provide you with 2 suits on top of your thermals- the middle layer was the one that kept you nice and warm. The top one is a dry suit. Then you have gloves, shoes, flippers and the snorkel mask. Our instructor and guide, Wesley, helped us every step of the way here. You walk through the parking lot to the fissure and one by one you enter the magnificently blue world of ice-cold clear water. The water is so clear that you can see 100 meters (300 feet) ahead of you. It has various sections that you go through namely Silfra crack, fissure, cathedral and lagoon. My favorite was the cathedral which is the biggest and deepest portion of the fissure resembling a ‘cathedral’. the water is so clear that you can see from one end to the other of the cathedral. It is almost magical to be underwater in ice-cold water and you suddenly appreciate the beauty of nature.
The last turn from the Silfra cathedral to the lagoon is the hardest as the current has picked up and if you miss the turn you can go right into the lake. That might not be a very pleasant experience as they would have to rescue you using helicopters. But like I mentioned earlier, the instructors are very good, follow safety precautions. Wesley had explained us very well in advance about how he was going to proceed through this part of the Silfra and made sure we turned safely and accurately.
This last turn brings you to the lagoon. Once in the lagoon you can play around, get some good pictures, explore the whole area.
It can be a tiring swim, but if you do get tired, just turn on your back take the mask off and let the buoyant suit keep you afloat. Also, drink that delicious glacial water. It is the cleanest water you will ever drink.
Once you are done with the tour, they take you back to the meeting point; and here you will be welcomed with delicious & warm hot chocolate and cookies. That was a great idea to warm us up after the cold but fun swim.
So all in all, my experience with Troll expeditions was amazing. I loved the courteous nature, responsible but still funny manner of the employees. I must’ve emailed them at 11 pm the night before the activity and also on my way to the lake as I was running late, and I would get instant reply. They are very accommodating and they also take pictures for free. So you don’t have to worry about taking your Go-Pro with you. The pictures don’t do justice though. You have to actually see it to assimilate the vastness, the surreal beauty of this place.
I would definitely recommend Troll Expeditions and also Wesley for anyone doing this tour in Iceland. Even though they are relatively new, my experience with them was perfect.
The review here is my own, and I have not been compensated by Troll expeditions to write this review!!