A Different Kind of Dive Trip for Our Members
It might have seemed a peculiar choice at first glance, a dive trip to Iceland, really, with 34-degree water? It wouldn’t have occurred to me personally if Karen Straus, noted bird photographer and intrepid member of WDHOF, hadn’t already been there and suggested it for us. Then we discovered that diving the very narrow Silfra Fissure between two continental tectonic plates was on many divers’ “bucket list.” Who knew? Offering further enticement was the aspect of no gear-schlepping to one of the most scenic places on earth, oh joy. We decided we didn’t have to be always underwater to experience fantastic explorative travel. It wasn’t an obvious destination for us, but we have hardy, brave, adventurous members who love to travel to exotic places, and this escapade certainly fit that bill!
With the exception of Karen and Eric, none of us really knew what to expect, but many had always wanted to visit Iceland and grabbed this opportunity to travel with good friends to the land of fire and ice and the midnight sun! We prepared ourselves with guide books, articles, films, research on Iceland and Icelanders plus flora and fauna. We were given great guidance on packing lists, itinerary and not-to-be missed sights. We got out the walking sticks, the hiking pants, the layers ready for any change in weather, plus the photographers (the majority, natch) dug out wide-angle and extreme telephoto lenses, filters, tripods, housings, ports, you name it – we were covered.
Our itinerary could not have been fuller, changing locales every day. To ease the weariness of long flights from our bones, we blissfully melted into the heavenly warmth of the earth bath spas before heading into the picturesque city of Reykjavik, a great dinner and comfortable rooms. We awoke wonderfully refreshed and ready for our quest.
Our guide Thora was an intrepid driver and a rare person of much knowledge and personality. She endeared herself to us immediately and we had great confidence even when crossing rushing rivers. Our coach was a Mercedes all-terrain, commodious, comfortable and safe vehicle that saw us cover half of Iceland west to east and north to south. Think of it, vast open skies, majestic glaciers, green, green farm lands, volcanos, geysers, thermal vents, caves, astounding waterfalls, rushing rivers, fjords, rugged cliffs, 1000-year-old turf settlements, home of Eric the Red, Icelandic horses, wild sheep, sea birds, Arctic foxes, whales and dolphins, and 24 hours of daylight that enabled us to see so very much of it all. Wherever else will you start a hike at 9 P.M.? Among our great adventures was the dive/snorkel through the fresh waters of the Silfra Fissure, aided by current through the narrow passage between the two great tectonic plates. What a great trip! The gear was great and we didn’t really feel the 34-degree water except on our bare faces and somewhat on hands and feet – the drysuits were that good. Visibility was unlimited!
Although we struggled with the Icelandic language, we did manage to return home at least able to say Reykjavik, Akureyri, Stykkisholmur, Saudarkrokur, Myvatn, Husavik, Kefkavik and more! Holbrook Travel booked us into lovely inns and the food was truly wonderful. We loved all our accommodations (which varied widely) – all were clean, comfortable and picturesque.
To add to all that, the Icelanders are a warm, welcoming people. This was a true experience of a lifetime and most of us want to return, maybe in winter for the Northern Lights! Each and every one of us boarded our flights home with a great smile and a warm feeling for Iceland and her people. Maida Taylor, Sally Bauer, Karen Straus, Susan Bangasser, Susan Copelas, JoAnne Nowak, Erin O’Neill, Lila Harris, Ed Kelly and Eric Hanauer made up our band of merry explorers.