Snorkelling Silfra & Lava Caving Day Tour
Explore the hidden wonders of Iceland with this snorkelling and lava caving combination tour. This opportunity is not to be missed by the adventurous seeking unique experiences.
This tour begins when you are picked up in the morning from Reykjavík. You will be driven for forty minutes or so to Þingvellir National Park, one of the most famous sites in Iceland. Its name means ‘Fields of Parliament’, as it was the original site of the world’s longest-running parliament, formed in 930 AD.
The geology of Þingvellir will be more relevant to you regarding this tour, however. Framed by the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates, it is located right in the middle of the Mid-Atlantic Rift. The geological activity caused by the plate movement means that the park is filled with ravines, and due to the groundwater travelling through the lava, all of these are natural springs.
The one that you will snorkel in is called Silfra. Before entering it, your guides will tell you about the route and safety, and gear you up in all the necessary protective equipment.
As soon as you get into the ravine, the first thing you will notice is the clarity. Due to the long filtration process, as the water travels through the porous lava rock before emerging into the spring, it has had all the sediment removed from it. It is therefore drinkable, and the visibility is over 120 metres.
For up to around fifty minutes, you will be guided through Silfra by a gentle current. This is plenty of time to marvel at the vivid blues, plunging depths, and fascinating geology without getting too cold. Even if the chill does get to you, there is hot chocolate and cookies at the end of the tour to warm up with.
Following your time at Silfra, you will head to the Reykjanes Peninsula for the caving component of this tour. This part of Iceland is renowned for its barren landscapes, endless lava fields, and many volcanoes.
The cave you are heading to is called Leiðarendi, which sits at the base of the Bláfjöll mountain range. Formed by two eruptions a millennium apart, it is a perfect example of the network of tubes that snake beneath Iceland’s lava landscapes.
You will gear up with a helmet and light before heading into Leiðarendi’s depths. Within the cave, you will notice beautiful colouration, caused by different elements churned up in the eruptions. There are also features such as stalagmites and stalactites to admire and photograph - just be careful not to touch them, as they will never grow back if broken.
This particular lava tube is great fun to traverse as it is entirely natural. That means there will be certain points where you have to do some clambering and crawling, adding to the adventure.
Do not miss this opportunity to explore Iceland, beneath the surface of its water and lava landscapes. Check availability by choosing a date.
- Available: All year
- Duration: 8 hours
- Activities: Snorkelling, Caving, Sightseeing
- Difficulty: Easy
- Minimum age: 12 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.Reykjanes,
Reykjanes is a peninsula in Southwest Iceland, characterised by immense lava fields, volcanoes and strong geothermal activity.
Volcanic & Geothermal Activity
The peninsula runs along the Mid-Atlantic Ridge where the Eurasian and the North American tectonic plates are drifting apart. Because of this geological setting, the whole peninsula is extremely volcanically active, covered with lava fields and volcanoes and small earthquakes are very common there.
During the middle ages, many eruptions occurred in Reykjanes, but no eruptions have been recorded there for the last 500 years.
The main geothermal areas of Reykjanes are Gunnuhver, Krýsuvik and Svartsengi. Various mud pools and fumaroles can be seen at Gunnuhver while Krýsuvik is characterised by hot springs and mud pots that bestow multicoloured hues upon the soil. The green crater lake Grænavatn is also an impressive sight.
Svartsengi is home to a geothermal power station that produces 76.5 MW of electricity from the 475 litres of 90° C warm water that gush from the earth per second. The mineral-rich surplus water fills up the Blue Lagoon spa.
Nature & Wildlife
Reykjanes' cliffs are teeming with birdlife. Its best-known bird colony resides in Krýsuvikurbjarg which is the nesting place of approximately 80 thousand seabirds. North of Krýsuvíkurbjarg is Kleifarvatn, the largest lake on the peninsula and one of the deepest in Iceland.
Reykjanes is hammered by some of the most breathtaking breaker waves in the world. A short drive from Krýsuvík is Selvogur where one is able to witness some of the country's greatest waves. On Reykjanestá, the southwest tip of the peninsula, the waves are known to reach heights of 20-30 meters.
The peninsula's north side is dotted with fishing villages and towns, most notably Keflavík, Sandgerði, Garður and Vogar. Grindavík town is located on the south shore of the peninsula.
Near Keflavík is the Miðnesheiði heath, where the international airport, Leifsstöð (also known as Keflavíkurflugvöllur or ‘Keflavík Airport’) is located.
The World-Famous Spa
On the southern tip of the peninsula is the Blue Lagoon geothermal spa, an ideal place for relaxing and bathing.Leiðarendi Cave,
Leidarendi is a lava tube located in the Tvibollahraun lava field, close to the Blue Mountains in Southwest Iceland, about a 25 minutes drive from Reykjavik.
Go here to find the Leiðarendi cave tour.
Leidarendi is notable for its incredibly diverse and colourful scenery, and is considered a prime example of an Icelandic lava tube.
A distinctive feature of Leidarendi is various lava flakes that have fallen from its walls and roof, due to frost and erosion. These flakes indicate the many different lava streams that have flowed there subsequently throughout the ages. In the cave you will further see cave walls polished by lava streams along with stalagmites, stalactites and other fascinating formations. In winter you are likely to see glistening natural ice sculptures in the cave, adding further beauty to the already otherworldly scene.
As the cave is sensitive ask you to show uttermost care, so you and others may continue to enjoy the marvelous sights of Leidarendi and learn firsthand about Iceland's geological history, to which the cave bears proud witness.Bláfjöll,
The Blue Mountains are a beautiful mountain range of the tuff type, located around 20 km from Reykjavik, by the lava plateau of Hellisheidi. The mountains are the most popular skiing venue for the people of Reykjavik and its surroundings.
The mountains offer excellent slopes for downhill skiing, cross-country skiing and snowboards. The area is strong with volcanic activity, with frequent earthquakes and the lava that became Kristnitokuhraun lava field flowed from there in the year 1000. Kristnitokuhraun is located at the outskirts of the Blue Mountains. Also in the area is the fascinating underworld of the lava tube Leidarendi.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.Mosfellsdalur,
Mosfellsdalur is a valley, located approximately 20 kilometres (12 miles) from Iceland’s capital city of Reykjavík.
The valley of Mosfellsdalur is a lush and scenic lowland that, despite sitting very close to the capital, is often forgotten by the locals. The picturesque valley is the perfect countryside getaway, where travellers can enjoy golfing, horse riding, sightseeing or hiking.
Mosfellsdalur Viking Village
Additionally, a Viking Village is currently set to be constructed in Mosfellsdalur. The museum will include twenty reconstructed Viking Age buildings, as well as a farmstead, church and temple. The village will give visitors a glimpse into Iceland’s past. The project is being handled by the company Stórsaga.Mosfellsbær
Mosfellsbær, colloquially known as “The Green Town”, is a town in southwest Iceland, 15 minutes drive away from the island’s capital, Reykjavik. Mosfellsbær has a rough population of 9000 inhabitants. As its nickname suggests, the town has a reputation for beauty, vegetation and greenhouses.
The town has a long history of literature and writers. The Viking warrior poet, Egil Skallagrimsson, is supposedly buried near the town of Mosfellsbær, along with a horde of silver treasure. A man of violence, literature and rune magic, it is claimed that in a final act of brutality, Egil murdered the man who assisted in his silver’s burial. After his farmstead was renovated to a Christian chapel, it is told that Egil’s son exhumed his body, burying him close in an undisclosed location. To this day, treasure hunters around the world still ponder as to the whereabouts of Egil’s silver, though no one is any closer to finding it.
Talking poetry, the town was a lifelong home to Iceland’s only Nobel Laureate, Halldór Laxness, “the undisputed master of contemporary Icelandic fiction”. Laxness wrote widely on his experiences and observations living in the Mosfellsbær area - 62 books in 68 years - but was particularly detailed in the memoir Home in the Hayfield. Laxness’ home, Gljúfrasteinn, was built as a family residence in the Mosfellsdalur Valley and has since been renovated as a museum dedicated to the author’s life, work and cultural legacy. Paintings and eccentric furniture are still positioned as they were in the author’s life. Even his 1968 Jaguar is still parked out the front of the house.
Things to Do in Mosfellsbær
Over recent years, there has been systematic development in furthering outdoor recreation and leisure activities in the area. Hills surrounding the town, such as Mosfell, Grímannsfell, Helgafell and Úlfarsfell, provide incredible vistas of the southwest coastal area, as well as offering fantastic opportunities for walking, horseriding, hiking and fishing for trout and Arctic char. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Mosfellsbær residents are known to be nature lovers, even by the high standards of the Icelandic people. Mosfellsbær borders the ocean in Leirvogsá, where three rivers - Leirvogsá, Kaldakvísl and Varmá - all open to the sea. Thermal activity in the area has also provided the capital with hot water for heating and hot pools since 1933, making it an important site for the country, both in culture and practise.
Pickup time : 07:00, 08:00, 09:00
Free hotel pick up and return
Guided snorkeling tour
Guided cave tour
All necessary equipment
Hot choclate and cookies between Snorkeling in Silfra and Lava Caving
Entrance fee into Silfra
What to bring:
Long thermal underwear
Suitably warm clothes for the weather of the day
Good shoes (e.g. hiking boots)
Water resistant pants
Extra layer of warm clothes
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:
This snorkelling part of 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. 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 might need a medical waiver. Please contact the operator for further information and application papers.