Snorkelling Silfra Day Tour
Immerse yourself in some of the clearest water in the world, and snorkel between the tectonic plates. This tour should not be missed by any who love adventure and want to see Iceland through a unique and spectacular perspective.
Silfra is a fissure created by the separation of the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Þingvellir National Park. This remarkable ravine continuously fills with glacial water that has been trickling through underground lava for approximately 30 years. This natural filtering system allows for over 100 meters visibility and makes it among the clearest bodies of water on the planet.
The highly trained instructors will first dress you in an undergarment and dry suit. After suiting up, they will lead you to the staircase, help you in, and guide you through through the four parts of the Silfra fissure.
As the glacial water reaches Silfra, it creates a very slight and comfortable current, and all you need to do is allow yourself to float downstream. Because of the water’s clarity, this floating may feel in fact more like flying. You will spend about 30-40 minutes snorkelling, with a little time at the end of the tour to explore a lagoon by yourself.
After a short walk back to the parking lot, hot chocolate and cookies will be waiting for you.
Please be sure to bring a pair of long underwear and two pairs of thick wool socks to make sure that you stay comfortably warm in the 2°C water. Your hands and face will come into direct contact with the water, but the rest of you should stay dry. If the weather is less than favourable, do not worry, as there is a 'changing room' on wheels for you to take shelter in while changing.
This is truly an is an otherworldly experience; the near-freezing temperatures, astonishing colours, and sensations of flying provide a very unique environment for underwater meditation that you will never forget.
Don't miss this awesome adventure. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 6 hours
- Activities: Snorkelling, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Moderate
- Minimum age: 14 years.
- Languages: English
- Highlights: Þingvellir,
Þingvellir is one of the most important sites to visit in Iceland for its landscape, history and cultural value.
The Icelandic parliament was founded in Þingvellir in 930 and remained there for centuries. Þingvellir is surrounded by a beautiful mountain range and is the site of a rift valley, marking the crest of the Mid-Atlantic range. Today it is a natural park, listed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and considered a vital part of the ‘Golden triangle’ (with Geysir and Gullfoss). Of particular note is the magnificent gorge Almannagjá, which marks the eastern boundary of the North American plate and into which the beautiful waterfall Öxarárfoss falls.
Other notable attractions within the park include the beautiful lake Þingvallavatn, the largest lake in Iceland, the Silfra fissure, one of the world's top dives, Þingvallakirkja Church and Gjábakkahellir, one of Iceland's most interesting lava tubes.Silfra,
Silfra is a fissure filled with fresh springwater within Þingvellir National Park, and one of the country’s most cherished wonders. Snorkelling and diving in its crystal-clear waters is an experience that is both thrilling and relaxing, and it is now considered to be one of the top five dive sites in the world. It takes around an hour to reach Silfra from Reykjavík.
- See this article on Diving and Snorkelling in Iceland
Geography of Silfra
Silfra fissure opened in 1789, due to the movements of the tectonic plates that frame Þingvellir National Park. The North American and Eurasian plates, which run all the way through Iceland, separate at about 2 centimetres per year, and when they do, tear open fissures in the land between them.
The ravines fill with water travelling underground through the porous lava fields in the area, originating from Langjökull glacier about 60 kilometres north. It can take the water up to a century to reach Silfra and this long filtration process results in the water being both extremely clear and drinkable.
Because the water travels underground, it maintains a constant temperature of two to three degrees Celsius and does not freeze over immediately at the source of the spring. Snorkelling and diving tours are thus open throughout the year.
The clarity of the water is what draws most visitors. The visibility can extend to over 100 metres, allowing you to see the canyon walls and bottom like you are floating over a great cathedral.
The last colour that water absorbs is blue, which means that when you look forward in Silfra, it is as if you are looking into an ethereal, vivid, azure world. The clarity also means that sun-rays refract through the surface of the water, creating rainbows on Silfra’s bed when the weather allows.
Snorkelling in Silfra
Snorkelling in Silfra fissure is a highly enjoyable activity, but you must meet some prerequisites to be able to join. These are as follows:
- You must be able to swim
- You must be over 16
- You must be in good physical health
- You must be at least 145 centimetres and 45 kilograms
- If you are over sixty, you will need a medical waiver
- If you are over forty-five with a history of heavy alcohol use and pipe smoking, you will also need a waiver
The most common option for snorkelling is to conduct it in a drysuit like is done on this tour. Drysuits work with a fluffy undersuit to keep your body free from water and insulated against the cold, making the task of swimming through the near-freezing temperature more than achievable.
While drysuit snorkelling is the most comfortable and popular option, a few tours allow you to go through Silfra wearing a wetsuit. Wetsuits, made of neoprene, allow water to surround your body in a thin layer, that your body then heats up and uses to protect you. Though they grant you more flexibility, they are not so warm, so this should be done by the daring; you will also need to be at least 50 kilograms to snorkel in a wetsuit.
In all tours, you wear neoprene on your head and hands to allow for better mobility, a mask and snorkel, and a pair of fins, all of which are provided on site. The course of Silfra takes approximately forty minutes, and there is a gentle current throughout, meaning it requires minimal energy to traverse.
Diving in Silfra
Diving through Silfra gives an extra dimension to its beauty, as you will be able to look up and see the sun glistening upon the surface as you cruise through the crystal clear waters. However, considering the risks associated with diving in cold water and cumbersome equipment, all who partake must meet all the requirements above, as well as one of the following:
- You must be a qualified diver with a certification in a drysuit speciality, OR
- You must be a qualified diver with at least 10 logged dives in a drysuit conducted over the past two years, signed by an instructor or divemaster.
Þingvallavatn (anglicised as Thingvallavatn, “Lake of the Parliament”) is a rift valley lake located roughly forty minutes drive from Iceland’s capital city, Reykjavik.
Features of Þingvallavatn.
Þingvallavatn is partially within the boundaries of Þingvellir National Park, Iceland’s largest national park and only one with UNESCO World Heritage Site status. Covering an area of 84 km&³2;, Þingvallavatn is the largest natural lake in Iceland with its greatest depth measuring at 114 m. Þingvallavatn is situated on the Mid-Atlantic Rift, on a part of the ridge known as the Reykjanes Ridge. The lake has only one outflow, the river Sog.
Of particular note to biologists and fishermen are the four morphs of Arctic Char that inhabit the lake. The lake’s char are an excellent example of species evolving to fit and adapt to a secluded environment; over ten thousand years, one species of Char has transformed into four different-sub branches. Other fish in the lake include the the Brown Trout and the Three-Spine Stickleback.
History and Geology
Þingvallavatn takes its name from the historical founding of the Althingi, which occurred in 930 AD at what is now known as Þingvellir National Park. Þingvellir literally translates to “Fields of Parliament.” The Althingi was the first democratically elected parliament in world history; Icelanders used to travel by foot or horseback simply to congregate at Þingvellir where they would hear the latest laws and judgements of the island.
Þingvellir National Park is also notable for its geology. Given its position on the Mid Atlantic Ridge, the park is one of the only places on the planet where visitors can see both the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates standing exposed from the earth. Footpaths allow you to get up close and personal to the plates, standing right where the ancient settlers once did. In between the tectonic plates lies fields of dried volcanic rock, blanketed with a thick, yet fragile layer of Icelandic moss.
Scuba Diving at Silfra / David's Crack
Scuba diving around Þingvallavatn revolves around two sites, Silfra Fissure and David’s Crack, the former being one of the most popular spots on the planet for snorkelling and underwater exploration. Silfra Fissure is situated between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates and is filled with crystal-clear glacial water originating from the Langjokull ice cap. The water measures at between 2-3 degrees Celsius all year round, a slight current preventing the fissure from ever freezing over.
David’s Crack is found within Þingvallavatn and is often considered the darker and more dramatic cousin of Silfra Fissure, resembling the gorge formation so prevalent across the Mid Atlantic Rift. Only certain tour operators provide David’s Crack, so make sure to do some research beforehand if you are looking to access this dive site during your time in Iceland.
Header Photo: Wikimedia. Creative Commons. Credit: Axel Kristinsson.
Pickup time : 07:00, 08:00, 09:00
Guided snorkeling trip
All necessary snorkeling equipment
Entrance fee into Silfra
What to bring:
long underwear & thick socks
Suitable clothes for being outside
Snorkeling Silfra Medical Statement | The Medical Statement Form will be emailed to you when you have completed your booking
Contact lenses if you wear glasses
Good to know:
To participate in this tour you must be able to fully communicate in English or have a translator with you at the time of the tour. Please note that you must be ready to wear a tight and constricting dry suit to protect your body from the cold.
You should be a minimum of 150 cm and a maximum of 200 cm in height and weigh between 45 and 120 kilos along with being physically fit. Be able to swim and be comfortable in the water. You must be a minimum of 14 years of age. If you are over 45 and partake/have partaken in pipe smoking or heavy alcohol intake, you might need a medical waiver. If you are over 60 years of age, you need a medical waiver. This tour is not suitable for pregnant women.
Please note that should you have any neurological, circulatory or respiratory problems or underlying diseases, battled any illnesses or have any physical problems you might have to turn in a physicians allowance to participate in this tour.
Before partaking in this tour you will have to read, signed and followed directions of the Snorkeling Silfra Medical Statement, along with signing a liability release form at the start of the tour.
Please contact the operator for further information and application papers.