while we would have liked to have slept in on our first morning in the campervan, a snorkeling appointment was on the books, so instead we were up bright and early and ready for another day of adventures. but first. coffee.
getting geared up for snorkeling was quite an ordeal. turns out, when you’re planning to submerge yourself in 37°F water, you need to take special precautions. we had on wool base layers, an insulated jump suit, and then a water tight dry suit (which also made us very buoyant). once we were passed gear inspection, we flop walked to the put in point, got one last set of instructions, and waded into the frigid waters.
ok. so let me tell you about the silfra fissure. basically, iceland spans two different continental plates, that are every so slowly drifting apart, creating the thingvellier valley in iceland (and the mid atlantic ridge at the bottom of the atlantic ocean). every so often, all of the shifting and pressure results in an earthquake, and fissures (giant terrifying cracks in the earth) occur. one of the largest and deepest, the silfra fissure is filled with glacial waters, that traveled for 50-100 years through lava rock, nature’s perfect filter, making it 100% H2O and safe (and tasty) to drink. also, because of the purity, there is unbelievable visibility, up to 100 meters, and we could see waaaay down into the giant scary cracks.
our suits kept us mostly warm, but since our faces were exposed, and the whole point of snorkeling is to put your face in the water, i had a great appreciation for the frigidness of the water. we saw one fish, who had wandered in from the lake that the fissure feeds into, but because of the purity of the water, there’s not much for them to eat, so they don’t stick around too long.
we floated along for about 45 minutes, and it was so cool. and despite my warnings to my kids, i did not get crushed by an earthquake, giving them a very cool tragic backstory. im sure they were secretly disappointed. at the end, we flop walked back to the meeting point, where we changed out of our suits and served hot chocolate and cookies. and then we whisked away in our little campervan, to the national park visitor center, where we had sweeping views of the valley. from there we took little hike to a waterfall. and by hike, i mean boardwalk and paved path walk, through more fissures and cool dramatic iceland landscape stuff.
the hike “ended” at the oxarafoss waterfall, which was pretty cool, but oh so people-y. this would be a common occurrence for us. cool, but people-y. anyways.
for the return hike, we detoured around a little lake. i can’t remember the details of why there was a little church, except that part of the importance of this area is that it’s where iceland was declared a sovereign nation back in the day. (i dont know when. i’m all about the geology and scenery. history and politics, not so much, sorry leif ericson).
it was time to bid farewell (for now) to thingvellir national park and we began to meander to our next destination. but, since we HAD to eat, derek found us an off the beaten path spot to obtain our nourishment. at the efstidalur farmhouse (also inn also creamery, i think), we stuffed our faces with delicious burgers and ice cream. from our table, we could look outside and see beautiful icelandic vistas, or look down into the little barn and see the cows that would make our ice cream (hopefully), or look into the back of our eyelids while we attempted to rest a bit and recover from jet lag and a whirlwind pace.
originally, we had planned a little 2 or 3 mile hike to visit bruarfoss, a waterfall known for it’s baby blue coloring and dramatic twisting and swirling. but, lo and behold, in april of this year, a road and parking lot were completed, sparing us the hike in exchange for a quick five minute walk. we were pretty stoked because time was getting away from us and we thought we might have to nix this one from the list. glad it worked out like this.
our final official stop for the day was gullfoss, one of iceland’s most popular waterfalls. i think it’s the size, the location, the double tiers. but there was a full blown visitor center at this one. bus parking all of that. we got in, got pics, got out. i like waterfalls, but i think i prefer pretty ones over the high volume niagara falls-esque ones.
on our way to the campground, we rounded a sharp turn and crossed a bridge, and spotted this cool little aqua river type area. we turned around as soon as we could (not easy, it turns out, at time in iceland) and went back. the sun was hiding behind clouds and rocks, so the beautiful aqua was a murky grey green, but still. cool. and worth hopping around a bit to see.
we had one last little surprise before we arrived at the campground. as we were driving along, we saw dozens of horses being rounded up and led along the road in front of and next to us. finally. we made it into the next campground and crashed into our bed for another night of hard, heavy and not enough sleep.