Swim in the crystalline waters of the Silfra rift to see one of the most fascinating sights that this planet has to offer — the only place in the world where it’s possible to swim between two continents. By Shrimayee Thakur
The Silfra Tectonic Fissure is a rift between the continents of North America and Eurasia, located in the Þingvallavatn Lake in the Þingvellir National Park, Iceland. It is the place where the two massive tectonic plates meet, and are slowly drifting apart at around two centimetres every year, causing earthquakes about once every decade. It is the only place on the planet where it is possible to swim directly between the continents of North America and Europe.
The water in the beautiful Þingvallavatn lake comes not from rivers, but from porous lava rocks beneath the water. The process of filtering through the lava rocks makes the water from the Langjökull glacier crystal clear and drinkable. This is the reason why it is possible to see up to 100 metres in Silfra. Filtering through porous rocks is a slow process, therefore takes around 50 to 100 years for the water to become part of the lake. This means that every drop of water in the lake could possibly be over a century old. The water in Silfra is said to be the clearest in the world. The force of the natural spring creates a gentle current, which feeds freshwater into Silfra constantly, and stops the water from freezing. The temperature is constantly between 2 to 4℃.
With colourful green algae in the summer and snow in the winter, Silfra has beautiful sights to offer its visitors whenever they visit. It is, however, advised for travellers to go in the summer, as the glacial water is very cold. The best part about visiting Silfra is getting to touch two continents at the same time. Visitors can choose to either dive or snorkel. The gentle flow of the water is very helpful for snorkelers, allowing them to just let the current guide them through the fissure. Visitors must book tours to dive or snorkel in Silfra. The tour operators will provide the gear, such as dry-suits, necessary to be able to swim in the cold water, but don’t forget to pack good thermal underwear and thick socks!