Iceland – Tourist stamps VIII – Diving and Northern lights tours

Iceland may be renowned for its pristine and unusual landscapes, but some of its “waterscapes” are certainly not lacking!

Þingvellir National park is quite unique – situated roughly on the limit between the north American and the European tectonic plates, it is the place in Iceland where you can observe with your naked eye where the aforementioned plates diverge at a rate/speed of between 0,2 and 2 cm per year.

In 1789, volcanic activity was intense and a major earthquake shook the South of Iceland, with tremendous consequences on the valley of Þingvellir – the whole land subsided (in fact, the plains of Þingvellir actually subsided a whole 1-2 meters in the spring of 1789!) and great fissures and cracks opened in the plains.

One of these fissures is Silfra. Silfra is a deep crack between the tectonic plates, and is linked to Þingvellir lake.


The lake is part freshwater and partly fed with meltwater from a nearby glacier – it takes several decades for the water to travel to Þingvellir and on its way, the water is filtered through the lava fields… so by the time it gets to destination, it is crystal clear. When there is no wind, the underwater visiblility in Silfra is consequently a stunning 100 meters, making it one of the most popular diving spots in Iceland in recent years.

However, if you want to go diving in Silfra, be warned! The temperature is a constant 2 to 4 degrees all year-round, so when diving or snorkeling, it is best to wear a drysuit if you want to enjoy without freezing your flippers off ;-)…



Northern light tours are also increasingly popular among tourists – 10 years ago, about 14% of our foreign visitors went on so-called Northern lights tours” – Now, the numbers have increased to about 40%!

The Northern Lights (or Aurora borealis)  are actually the result of collisions between gaseous particles in the Earth’s atmosphere with charged particles released from the sun’s atmosphere. The aurora can appear in different colours but the most common are green and pinkish, sometimes variations of purple – the colour variations are due to the type of gas particles that are colliding. Sometimes they are weak, but the auroras are sometimes so intense that you can see them from the centre of Reykjavík!  

Of course, THE prerequisite to seeing norther lights is darkness, so it is best to go out of town to avoid light pollution… and also bear in mind that it is pretty much constant daylight between May and August in Iceland, so if you come especially to see the northern lights, it is best time to come from around mid-September to the beginning of April… And if you don’t see them on your first trip, be patient and remember the northern lights are a natural phenomena ;-)

Issue: 681A-B
Design and photography: Oscar Bjarnason
Photo: Alex Mustard (681A)
Printer: Cartor Security Printing
Process: Offset Litho
Stamp size: 35×25,87 mm
Sheet configuration: 10 stamps
Paper: 110 gsm PVA
Price: 50g to Europe (250ISK)
50g outside Europe (315 ISK)

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