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Iceland

Iceland

Iceland

ISSUE 18 ARCHIVE - MESMERISING ICELAND

Juliette Claro

I can say it now: I can die happy tomorrow as I have dived Silfra!

It was one of those dreams that you want to realise, but you think you’ll never do it and once you’re actually doing it, you are gobsmacked and you keep pinching yourself.

Yes, that was me whilst diving Silfra. I have seen it on

TV. I have seen pictures of it in the National Geographic magazines, but I have to say, none of these actually pay it justice. Silfra is the most exhilarating diving experience I have ever done. I got the chills not from the 2°C water but from the excitement and amazement of hovering through this place.

Silfra is a crack in the sub-continents that separate

the North American plate and the European plate. It

is situated 50km North-East of Reykjavik, the capital

of Iceland, in the National Park of Thingvellir and the water that feeds into the fissure has been filtered from the Langjokull glacier (pronounced... well, pronounce

it if you can) for the last 30 to 100 years. The water in Silfra is purer than Evian and on the surface you can drink it (well not too much of it or you get stuck in a dry suit with a major physical need) if you can’t wait for the next Viking beer. Silfra means Silver lake in Icelandic

and the definition reflects the colours of the water reflecting the sky. The water is so pure that divers (and snorkelers) experience 100 to 150 metres visibility which is completely disorientating from the surface. The effect is stunning. You lose your sense of distance and depth which can create a feeling of vertigo for those who have acrophobia. Some people have described it as diving in gin, it is like diving in gin, no exaggeration.

You dive Silfra in a day with 2 or 3 dives which you generally complete with a tour of the National Park,

the Geyser and a visit to the glaciers. To get the full experience you can also take the PADI Tectonic Plate Speciality which teaches everything about the process

of filtration of the water through the fissure, safety knowledge whilst diving between the plates (constantly moving with the Earth’s movement) and geeky knowledge reviews on the different types of algae living in the crack. Silfra is a blessing for photographers because the light that comes through the water allows for the most genius effects. The saddest is that none of the pictures will

match the reality and the beauty of this incredible place, especially in the midnight sun.

You can also top up your tectonic plate diving experience by diving in the geothermal lake of Kleifarvatn (again... pronounce if you can), where you dive in the crater of a volcano (buoyancy control must be perfect) feeling the bubbles on your hands and getting the Jacuzzi experience. You must also dive the geothermal chimneys of Strytan

in the north of the island (a five hour drive) where the minerals of the hot fresh water coming from 70m deep in the sea coagulate with the cold ocean water creating massive limestone chimneys. A very spooky dive where wolffish and monkfish will play hide and seek with you at depth. (Advanced Open Water Minimum).

Iceland has a lot to offer and the reality of our living planet is unavoidable even from the shower of your hotel room where the hot water will have a tiny taste and smell of sulphur.

In order to make your geothermal tour complete, you must finish your stay with a relaxing matinee at the Blue Lagoon where you can get pampered from head to toe.

From whale watching to tectonic plate diving, Iceland is without doubt an island of wonders which will mesmerise you. Nature is at your feet even if sometimes it means you may end up with a pickled puffin in a jar for dinner. It is definitely the trip of a life time.

Useful contacts for diving tours: Dive.IS

Flights: London – Reykjavik from £248

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