Years ago I saw an article on Facebook about a place in Iceland called Silfra where you could snorkel between two continents at the same time and it instantly went on my bucket list. As soon as we started planning our trip to Iceland I immediately started researching this activity. My boyfriend Andy told me that at over $200 each we just couldn’t afford to do it on our backpacker budget… a lie he told as he had already booked us in as a surprise for my birthday. Best birthday present ever!!!
A QUICK GUIDE TO SILFRA, ICELAND.
As I have visited all seven continents of the world I was so excited to have the unique opportunity to swim the fissure between both the North American and Eurasian continents at the same time. It is literally the only place in the world where this is possible.
The continental plates meet and drift apart by 2cm each year. The glacial water in Silfra is a cold 2 degrees celsius all year round and comes from Iceland’s second largest glacier Langjökull. The water is filtered through porous, underground lava tunnels for 30-100 years before making its way into the fissure. The water is so pure you can drink it at any time throughout the activity. As the water is so clean and cold it is also the clearest water in the world with visibility off up to 100 metres deep, which is practically unheard of.
Thingvellir National Park (Þingvellir), which is 60km from Reykjavik and a stop on the famous Golden Circle route, is where you will find the natural wonder of Silfra, which is a UNESCO world heritage site for both geological and historical significance in Iceland.
We did our tour with Arctic Adventures, as they were rated highly on trip advisor. We opted to do the ‘Into the Blue’ snorkelling tour (I can’t dive until I get surgery on my sinuses unfortunately). Our driver Jonas, who was honestly the friendliest person we met in all of Iceland, picked us up from our hotel in Reykjavik and drove us the hour into the countries only national park where we met with our guides and got ready for the activity.
We were asked to bring a warm layer of clothing (not made out of cotton) to wear. I wore my merino wool thermals and socks underneath the ‘teddy bear suit’ they provided as a layer to keep us warm under the dry suit. After we managed to pull the dry suit on (the struggle was real and definitely not the most attractive I’ve ever looked) which keeps your body dry and warm we put on headwear and gloves, which wouldn’t stay dry but would keep us warm enough for the activity. Then they use neoprene rubber to seal our necks and wrists to insure the water stays out.
I am not one to normally get claustrophobic but I was having a mild panic attack under all these layers as I felt very restricted. The bands made my hands swell slightly and I felt like I couldn’t breathe with the tightness of the band around my neck (a phobia I already have). I slightly worried that I wouldn’t be able to do the activity ahead but my concern was for nothing because as soon as I was in the water the tightness disappeared.
As soon as we entered the water our head and hands got wet and cold, but after a few minutes they numbed enough that it didn’t bother us anymore. All of the focus was now on the incredible beauty below. The water was honestly the clearest water I have ever seen in my life. I could see the bottom of the very deep fissure as if it was merely metres away. There is not a lot of life in the water but for a bit of ‘troll hair’ and algae. We spent the next forty minutes snorkelling around the Silfra fissure revelling in the fact that at that moment we were swimming between two continents at the same time, my fingers brushing against the rocks of two places at once. Simply amazing.
The only way Arctic Adventures could have improved this fantastic tour would be to offer complimentary hot chocolate at the end. A quick and easy way to warm us up after a cold activity.
We had the most incredible time snorkelling the Silfra, truly a once in a lifetime experience that I will never forget. Big thanks to my thoughtful boyfriend for finding the perfect way to celebrate my birthday.