Day 9: Hellnar to Reykjavik
Up early and on our way by 6:30 to get to our first stop by 9! Snorkeling in Silfra, the fissure between the continents.
The Silfra fissure is actually a crack between the North American and Eurasian continents, meaning that you dive or snorkel right where the continental plates meet and drift apart about 2cm per year.
Silfra is the only place where one can dive or snorkel directly in the crack between two continental plates.
The underwater visibility in the Silfra fissure is over 100 meters, which creates an underwater experience that feels quite surreal! The reasons for this astounding water clarity are twofold: the water is cold (2°C – 4°C year round ) as it is glacial water from the nearby Langjökull and this water is filtered through porous underground lava for 30-100 years until it reaches the north end of Thingvellir lake, seeping out from underground wells. The Silfra water is as pristine as water can get and you can drink it at anytime during your dive or snorkel.
The Silfra fissure consists of four sections: Silfra Big Crack, Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral, and Silfra Lagoon. We were able to see all Silfra sections in our Snorkeling Tour. We entered the water from a platform with steps leading down. Two people in the group In front of us panicked and had to get out of the water. It made me really anxious but our guide Scott, stayed with me until I was comfortable on my own. The suits we were in were really buoyant and I was terrified of not being able to turn back over after seeing the two people panicking. Movement was also constricted. Anyway, he calmed my nerves and I was fine. The current mostly moves is through the four areas but in the Lagoon we had to swim against it which was hard work. Scott once again helped me and swam with me to the platform.
Although Thingvellir Lake has an abundance of fish species and trout fishing is very popular in the lake, the fish usually do not venture far into the Silfra fissure. The marine life in Silfra consists mostly of bright green “troll hair” and different types of algae that provide a colorscape unlike anything that occurs naturally above the surface. I thought above the surface was pretty awesome too – lava fields covered in moss!
As for the temperature- it was pretty darn cold on my hands, face and ears. In fact my lips hurt and when I came up for a look around, I couldn’t feel my lips! The suits kept the water out and we were pretty warm. The gloves wet through but our body warmed the water that got into them. The hot chocolate we had at the end was mostly for warming our hands up!
On the whole it was a wonderful experience but as far as Snorkeling goes, I prefer a tropical scenario.
Time enough to have lunch before checking into our AirBnb overlooking the old harbour.
Finally a washing machine so we popped on a big load and headed for more water. This time warm water. 37 degrees celcius water. Blue water with no visibility! Opposite to this morning in every way.
Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa
The geothermal water originates 2,000 metres below the surface, where freshwater and seawater combine at extreme temperatures. It is then harnessed via drilling holes at a nearby geothermal power plant, Svartsengi, to create electricity and hot water for nearby communities. So it’s not a natural spring but it’s natural!
WHY IS IT BLUE?
The geothermal water has a unique composition, featuring three active ingredients – Silica, Algae & Minerals. The blue colour comes from the silica and the way it reflects sunlight. During summer there can also be a hint of green in the water. This is the result of the algae, which multiplies quickly when exposed to direct sunlight. However, the water is actually white. If you pour it into a transparent cup, it will always have a milky white colour. The sun simply makes it look blue!
We had a great 2.5 hours! So relaxing. We even had two masks – silica and algae. I’ve never felt or looked so young!😂
It’s our last day in Iceland tomorrow and we have a food walk booked!