Iceland puts the “awe” back in awesome. Are you ready to see the meeting of two continents?
Or how about seeing a glacier close up? Here’s how you do it.
Between two continents
There are two monumental reasons to freshen up in what is called a “Silfra,” a fissure between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates in Iceland’s Thingvellir National Park:
- The Eurasian and North American tectonic plates meet there. In some places, the space between them is so narrow that you can touch two continents at the same time!
- The Silfra’s crystal-clear glacier water is one of the clearest in the world, making it seem like you’re floating in an ethereal, turquoise atmosphere at a depth of almost 100 feet (!). Even though it doesn’t look like it’s alive, in the sunshine, the gap’s form and colour look really dramatic.
However, on the “no-go” side there are two reasons not to take on this experience. The water is so cold (2-4 degrees Celsius or 35-39 degrees Fahrenheit all year around) that you will probably regret the whole endeavor the first few meters you submerge. This extreme temperature justifies putting on two thermal suits, which, in turn, leads to the other problem: suited up like this, you will look totally ridiculous. Of course, at the very end of it all this will be a passing discomfort, as your diving peers will also look like seals – just like you. Laughing at yourself is guaranteed!
Get close to a glacier
There are a number of ways to do this, from guided tours to small airplane rides, but I chose a snowmobile, mostly because I’d never ridden one before. I’d seen some glaciers in New Zealand and Norway, but Vatnajokull touched me the closest, both physically and spiritually. It is a dizzying sensation to reach out to such a formation and understand how the earth’s fantastic forces have shaped this island.
During the journey, we made some stops to climb up to higher points for jaw-dropping views, which were no coincidence as we were standing on the edge of an 8,100 km2 wide and 1400-meter high glacier. Of course, it is difficult to choose among the awe-inspiring adventures in Iceland. On the one hand, because there are plenty, from extreme off-road trips to glacier caves, and on the other, they are – as you can guess – very expensive.