Well, like all good adventures it seemed like a good idea at the time. We are not warm water pretty reef type divers so we decided it was time for a cold water destination. September found us getting on a plane and heading north to Iceland. When people think about diving in Iceland they always think Silfra, the crack where the American tectonic plate meets the European one. You can dive the crack, the water is crystal clear and you can touch both plates at the same time. We, however, would not be diving Silfra, over 50,000 people a year visit Silfra, some dive, most snorkel and diving somewhere where you have to queue to get in and out of the water just isn’t us, we had a plan! We did take a quick look at Silfra on the way past, and the sight of a queue of snorkelers all in their badly fitting drysuits waiting to go down the shiny metal steps into the water convinced us we had made the right decision. So we got into our 4wd hire car and headed north to Akureyri, it was an interesting journey but that’s another story.
The next morning Erlendur picked us up at our hotel, we collected tanks and weights and headed to Nesgja. This is part of the same crack as Silfra, but without all the people, the carpark full of dive centre vans or the shiny metal steps. Instead there was a muddy track heading across a field, so we got kitted up and set off. Nesgja is a crack 1-3m wide, 5m deep 150m long and full of gin clear water. As it was impossible to get lost, Erlendur stayed on the shore and left us to it. Nesgja is stunning, the visibility is around 100m, its like floating in air rather than water.
Once we had scrambled up the bank out of the water we climbed into the van and headed to Litla A. Litla A was a normal river until an earthquake, now it’s a warm river. We grabbed our snorkels (and yes we do remember how to use them!) and set off expecting a normal river, but we got much, much more! Again the water is crystal clear, the bottom is covered in weed, algae and amazingly, bubbling sand! The different coloured sand patches seem to flow as they bubble out warm water, one of the most surreal snorkelling experiences I have ever had.
The following day Erlendur picked us up and we took the dive centre rhib across the fjord to little Strytan where we met lots of cod and some very friendly ,but scary looking wolf fish. Little Strytan is a 10m tall cone shaped stack covered in life and warm vents.
The second dive was on the main 55m tall magnesium-silicate chimney, we started at 30m and gradually worked our way up to the top in about 15m. WOW! The various vents pump out a total of 100 litres/second of 72oc fresh water it is an amazing sight, the only other geothermal vents are between 2 and 6km deep, a little out of our depth range!
The snorkelling and diving here has been really impressive, I wish we had longer but it was time to pack up the wet kit and board the ship “Hondius” for part 2 of our arctic adventure.