tectonic diving, iceland
photo by BlackTomato

Tectonic Diving, Iceland

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The Facts
LocationIceland

For a whole new experience and to feel truly at one with the world, head for the Silfra gully at Iceland's Thingvellir National Park. Here you will find a place that redefines tranquillity.  I travelled with Richard Caring and his two sons who ventured out from Hotel 101, to this active tectonic plate region for an adventure few have encountered.

"Just a short drive from Reykjavik, scuba divers have the unique opportunity to plunge the depths of the crack between the American and Eurasion plates. We were to witness the point where two continents seem about to collide but are simply moving apart."

We arrived for our dive as rain poured down onto the lake at Thingvellir. The toe-clenching temperature of the Icelandic water- a mere two to four degrees- meant that we would be wearing dry suits. We were grateful to climb into the thermally insulated gear which prevents freezing water from touching any part of the body.

tectonic plate diving

Once the necessary buoyancy checks were completed, we were submerged into the deep with our guide, and began a 45-minute underwater exploration. As we manoeuvred our way through the narrow tunnels, sometimes only two metres wide, I was struck by how clear the water is at these depths. We could sometimes see for 100 metres, which as frequent divers will know, is staggering. The reason for this is there's little aquatic life as there's nothing for fish to eat in this chasm.

"And this purest of water comes from a melting glacier which has been filtered through lava fields for many years before emerging, through underground wells, into Thingvellir lake."

As we swam through this ancient and untouched part of the planet, dramatic, almost eerie scenes unfolded. The craggy sharp edges of the tectonic plates appeared to narrow and widen around us. The brilliant blue of the water seemed even more astonishing when you remembered the grey sky above, as if the underworld was completely removed from real life. It was no surprise to learn that the lagoon was

icelandic sunset

named Silfra - Icelandic for 'The Silver Lady' - because of the silvery quality to its light.

The dive could prove a challenge to those with minimum cold water experience - the dry suits can be restrictive. The suits also mean you must haul yourself out of the water while attached to 30 kilos of equipment and weights. But these inconveniences are a small trade-off for such spectacular visibility and calm, clear dive with no swell. And the otherworldly feeling of swimming inside an awe-inspiring abyss will stay clearly in my memory forever.

Black Tomato can arrange a four night trip staying at Reykjavik's chicest hotel, including excursions into Thingvellir National Park and a tectonic plate dive. Prices start from £1,299 pp.

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BlackTomato

This travel guide also includes text from Wikitravel articles, all available at WikitravelView full credits

This travel guide also includes text from Wikipedia articles, all available at WikipediaView full credits

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