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Iceland Day Nine – Reykjavik

This morning Sari made it successfully to the Keflavik airport to go home to Helsinki, and I woke up early to go Scuba Diving.

Diving in Iceland is a bit different than diving in other, more tropical parts of the world. This morning, I drove out with Arctic Adventures to Thingvelir national park, to dive in the volcanic Silfra Ravine.

The Silfra Ravine is a deep volcanic fissure, which is filled with crystal clear water at an icy 1 degree Celsius. Just barely above freezing, but still diveable.

Since the water here is so cold, we had to layer up with lots of clothing, and then put on drysuits, full hoods, and thick neoprene gloves. All the scuba gear we used was special cold water gear, with alcohol-soaked internal components, to prevent them from freezing. In the ultra cold water of Silfra, the visibility was absolutely stunning. It’s easily possible to see over 100 meters through the perfect water. Even more so than any other dive I’ve been on, it’s very much like you’re suspended in midair – no change in visibility or darkening as you look down, and a clear view to the sky when you look up.

Diving in such cold water definitely has its challenges. Wearing a heavy drysuit significantly restricts mobility, and maintaining neutral buoyancy is very touchy – you can control air levels in both the BCD and the dry suit, and both need to be maintained in order to stay balanced. Also, despite the layers of insulation, the 1 degree Celsius water eventually gets to you, and your face, hands, and feet begin to go numb.

By the end of the two dives, we were all thoroughly chilled, but happy, and relaxed in the van on our way back with some hot tea.

After the dive, I decided I needed a little more warmth, so I stopped one of the local pools, and had a soak in the hot pot with a bunch of locals. Icelanders love their hot pots, and there is usually one in every medium and large sized town. In Reykjavik, there are many, including one 2 blocks away from where I’m staying. Admission is only 300isk.

Tonight, Kelly, some friends and I are going out to Innipukinn 2010 for some live music.

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