Published July 2, 2019
Joining Troll Expeditions For A Snorkel At Silfra
There could not be a better day to snorkel in the Silfra fissure, I declare, as we leave the bustle of Reykjavík en route to Þingvellir. The sun beams down on us and there’s nary a cloud in sight, which, I know, will make the crystal clear waters of Silfra all the more spectacular. We could not be luckier and I’m more than ready to jump into those mysterious icy depths.
A new world
Just 45-minutes later and we’re at Þingvellir, promptly heading over to the Tröll Expeditions van, where we’re immediately greeted jovially by our guide for the day, Xabi, a fun and amusing Basque snorkelling expert who’s quick on wit and facts about the area. He gets us outfitted in wetsuits and float suits, which will ensure that we’re both toasty and floaty once we leave dry land. Jabi also grabs an underwater camera—he’ll be taking photos of us the whole trip, which we will get sent to us free after we leave.
Our group is but six people—the maximum Tröll expeditions allows per guide. This makes the whole experience that much more intimate as we gather around Xabi to learn a bit about the history and geography of the area. For reference, it appears most of the other tours seem to have more than ten people a pop.
Excitedly, Xabi explains that Þingvellir is not only the site of the first parliament in the world and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but it’s also the meeting point of the Eurasian and North American tectonic plates—or, more accurately, the point at which they are slowing pulling apart. This means that when we’re snorkelling in the Silfra fissure, we’re more or less between worlds. The visuals quickly blossom in my head as I look from side to side—we’re standing on some of the youngest ground in the world, and about to stare into the depths of their creation point. Though I thought I couldn’t be more excited, I’m suddenly even more anxious to dive in.
A snorkel at Silfra
And before I know it, we’re setting out into the clear blue waters of Silfra. The freezing water is a shock to the system when we jump in, sure, but since the warm wet/float suits cover our entire body, it’s only our faces that need to acquiesce to the water’s temperature. And acquiesce they do—in but a few minutes, I don’t even feel cold anymore, just ready to stare into some of the clearest water in the world.
Then, we’re off. Instantly, the turquoise depths flood my field of vision with beauty as I get comfortable with my snorkel. Taking careful breathes, I melt into my stunning surroundings. The rocky walls, which seem to descend forever, vary from grey to orange in shades so beautiful they would make Monet squeal. They contrast sharply with a sprinkling of fuzzy plant life, which lazes around the water, relaxed and unaffected by our presence. I’m an observer here, witnesses a world utterly unlike my own.
Smile for the camera
Calmly, we snake through passages that vary in depth from many metres to less than one. Having only six people on the trip gives all of us a little more room to groove and I take advantage of that by spreading my arms to all sides so I can turn and get a larger view of the underwater vista. The water is so deep and clear that I almost feel like if I were to lose my buoyancy and sink, I’d sink all the way down to the core of the Earth.
It’s at this moment that Xabi appears with his underwater camera to snap some pictures of all of us in the water. As I said before, Tröll Expeditions actually offers free underwater photography, which means I’ll get to remember the trip long after we get out of the water. It’s a fitting memento for a magnificent day.
Before I know it, it’s time to return to land from our snorkel at Silfra. Getting out of the water, the world seems different—less vivid and bright. The textures and colours of Silfra have touched me deeply and I’m anxious to re-live them through Xabi’s photos. To put it simply: I’ve entered the icy depths, and I’ll never be the same.