Diving the Silfra, Iceland!
Maybe some of you have heard of Silfra, am sure many have not-even I hadn’t!
When I was planning my trip to Iceland- it was more for the natural beauty and landscapes, the snow, the winter, the northern lights, the glaciers , hot water lagoons and the waterfalls –but I had never thought of the possibility of diving in Iceland, that too in winters!
While doing my research for Iceland, I luckily came across this diving site: The Silfra. Silfra is a basically a narrow ravine between the Eurasian and American continental plates. Melted snow water filters through magma rocks over 30 years and enters this rift to finally end up into a lake in the Pingvellir national park.
The water having passed through this natural filtering process is unbelievably pure and clear- creating one of the best diving sites in the world.
The underwater visibility here is 100 m+ and the water is a magical blue! Situated at an hour’s drive from Reykjavik, in the Pingvellir National Park (which is also the site of the first parliament in the world) is also one of the coldest dive sites in the world. There are options available of having a dry suit dive and a wet suit dive, I chose the wet suit option!
For those who may not be aware, a dry suit keeps you insulated from the cold and protects you from contact with the cold water. However, you end up just floating on the water and cannot freedive below the water surface.
A wet suit on the other hand allows you to go below the water surface-however one loses the protection from cold!
I chose to use the wet suit as I wanted to dive below the surface.
We reached the site at about 10 am in the morning with the weather being very chilly and windy. It was a batch of about 8 divers and one more diver along with me had chosen to use a wet suit-others were for dry suit which takes much more time to suit up. There is a small toilet in the parking area which one can use to change-or you just change in your car. I had gone to the site with a diving tour agency and we used their van to change into diving gear! After about 45 minutes, we were all suited up and ready to go.
The entry point to the water is a 2 minute walk. There is a small platform made from which one can just dive into the water. I suggest to just go for it- else you will keep worrying about the cold water. After cleaning my eye mask, I was ready to dive the silfra!
The first 5 minutes of the dive were tough- my body was taking its time to acclimatize to the 2 degrees Celsius temperature water. Make sure that you move your hands and feet. A good practice with the wet suit though is to not fist your hands- the reason is that this motion can make the cold water enter inside your suit!
After the initial 5 minutes, my body settled to the temperature of water and what followed was an unbelievable diving experience. The photos, although look extremely beautiful still do not do enough justice to the underwater beauty you see once you are below the water. The underwater walls of the tectonic plates, you moving through them with a visibility of more than 100 m, it is just magical.
There is not much aquatic life in this water apart from the plankton , however that is compensated by the beautiful underwater setting.
It feels heavenly-like meditation, to dive below the water surface and look at this beautiful creation of nature! 25 minutes of moving along the rift takes you to the final section of the diving area, which is a shallow pool. One recommendation if you undertake this dive: when you enter this pool, make sure you move to the left section of the pool – there are some really beautiful natural rock formations here.
After spending about 10 more minutes in this shallow area, it was time to get out of the water! Normally I would stay longer in the water, however, it was really cold in the water and I decided to come out and rush to the vehicle to change back to my warm clothes.
15 minutes to change back to the dry clothes and followed by a quick hot chocolate drink, we were on our way back to Reykjavik.
For Game of Thrones fans:
The area around the parking of the diving site was used to shoot a scene where in Arya and The Hound are roaming in the wilderness. Don’t forget to get a click of the area, especially with the waterfall that is visible behind the hillocks.
A word of Caution: The water at Silfra does indeed get cold and as is the case with any adventure sport, diving in water does come with certain share of risks. Please be advised to do any dive, and especially the one above only after you are sure that you are fit to undertake it. If you are, it is a beautiful world down there
P.S. – Do connect with us via www.helloindiahelloworld.com to plan your Icelandic adventure!