Iceland has always had a sort of mystique about it. The country itself is unbelievably beautiful, and looking out onto the sprawling, seemingly endless lava rock is absolutely otherworldly. The old saga's, history and culture of the people is incredibly alluring, not to mention that the majority of the country believes in elves, trolls and fairies (among other supernatural wonders)! It's a magical place and being able to explore the numerous attractions in Iceland almost feels like your exploring mars. Needless to say, we love it there. For those reasons and more, Iceland is one of the very few places that we have actually returned to multiple times during our travels. The first time we were in Iceland, we heard that it was possible to snorkel between the European and American continental plates at Thingvellir national park in a fissure called Silfra. Having found out about this a bit too late to try on your first trip, we knew we had to do it when we returned. Now, first off, you did read that right, I did say snorkel, secondly, talk about a amazing bucket list item! Snorkeling in Iceland! Now, the first time we ventured into Thingvellir, it was summer, this time; it was winter and obviously substantially colder. We were also with a group of friends that we convinced to do this with us. We met our group at the Thingevellir visitor center and drove over to the staging area where we started to get changed into our "teddy bear suits".
As you can see, the teddy suits were basically like a full body, down bubble jacket. They were extremely warm, and very comfortable, yet we still needed to keep our long underwear on beneath them because once we got into the water, which was literally just above freezing temperature, we were going to need them! Getting the teddy bear suits on was incredibly easy compared to the next step, our dry suits. Dry suits are basically the opposite of wet suits. The way a wetsuit works is to let a bit of water into your suit where it is then warmed by your body temperature. The warm water then keeps you nice and cozy in the ocean (Some people like to pee in there wetsuit to speed up the process). Dry suits on the other had are exactly like they sound, they keep water out, and they keep you dry. You definitely do not want to pee in your dry suit :). Whereas wetsuits are somewhat fluid and flexible, dry suits are stiff, restrict mobility greatly, are VERY tight along the appendages, and are extremely uncomfortable.
After squeezing into our dry suits we proceeded to take a short walk towards Silfra, and without hesitation, jumped on in! As you may have guessed, the water was cold. Like really really really cold. The dry suits did a great job protecting us from getting wet, but they definitely couldn’t keep the icy chill of the water off our bones. As we started to move around a bit, we were able to appreciate just how amazing this place was. The visibility was amazing, the water was so clear you could easily see the 60 meters to the rifts floor. Because of this, Silfra has been ranked as one the top 50 places to dive in the world. We spent about 2 hours snorkeling through this crack in the earth’s surface and exploring. As you can guess, there isn’t much (none) sea life swimming around in Silfra because of the extreme temperatures, but that doesn’t stop it from being a once in a life time experience.
Hiking a glacier is something only small portions of the people in the world ever get a chance to do, and on our last trip to Iceland, we decided it was the perfect time to get busy living! Glacier Sólheimajökull is about 2 hours south of Reykjavik basically right off Ring road. This is just about the closest, easily accessible glacier to the capital city, and there is plenty to see along the way. A couple of the main attractions you will come across are Seljalandfoss, Skogafoss, and if you’re adventurous enough, natural hot springs. Although you might want to wait till after your hike to soak in the natural Jacuzzi’s. Once we got to the glacier we met up with our guide who instructed us on how to put crampons on, use the pick ax he gave us, and also some basic ice safety. He also spent some time informing us on climate change and how it is affecting the glaciers of Iceland. You can actually see the change's of Sólheimajökull in the 2012 documentary, "chasing ice". As we walked towards the glacier, it became clear just how massive the frozen mountain is. The immense size of the block of ice we were about to hike was hard to wrap your head around. We spent about 2 hours hiking about a mile up onto Sólheimajökull, all the while marveling at its rugged beauty. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity that we were so glad to have experienced