January 26, 2018
The 7th continent.
To be honest, before I embarked on my trip, it was meant to be a straightforward bucket list item for me. However, it became much more than that almost immediately on a massive scale. For about 25 days, my voyage to the south of the world was beyond words. I do not think Webster’s Dictionary actually had the words needed to articulate what I had experienced.
After an amazing year in 2017, I wanted to start 2018 off right: a 5-stop voyage to Buenos Aires, Uruguay, Falkland Islands, South Georgia Islands, and finally Antarctica. Obviously, these are not common destinations to go to, especially the latter ones. The most common question I received was, “Why are you going down to Antarctica, isn’t it just cold down there?”
Yes, it is, simply put, but I was thankfully wrong…
- Antarctica is a continent, not a country that is governed by a multinational treaty since 1959. In other words, no one country lays claim to it.
- The ice is 15,670 ft deep, that is about 3 miles deep!
- 99.6% of the continent is all ice.
- It houses 90% of Earth’s frozen fresh water.
- There are approximately 14 million penguins there, but not one permanent human resident.
- For more information on Antarctica, click here.
After all the photos, videos, and memories that I could possibly draw from, there is no way I can describe what I had experienced in just this one article post. I will try my best for you though.
Pure Bliss - Never have I experienced this until I first saw my first penguin colony on Saunders Island, which actually is located on the South Georgia Islands. If you want to experience what the world was like before humans inhabited it well just go there. However, that was nothing compared to St Andrews Bay. It has one of the largest King Penguin colonies and it is breath-taking, to say the least. (Yes, these bottom photos were NOT photoshopped in any way, there really are that many penguins!!!)
Pure Serenity - Ironically speaking, I am actually not a “cold winter” person. Funny enough, of all places I ended up down here. Nevertheless, I do not back down from a good adventure. One of the uncommon water activities you can participate in is stand-up paddle-boarding and sea kayaking. Having tried both, I was lucky enough to steal enough moments of tranquility. Utter silence. It was deafening and calming at the same time. Recall a gentle snowfall? Picture that times a 100! This bottom photo captures exactly how I envisioned Antarctica to be, but there were much more diverse landscapes to be seen. Peace was all I had heard and felt.
One of the things that I came back with was new lenses for conservation and preservation. Having seen a vast, almost forgotten world of this scale, I can’t help but feel more in love with the wildlife that we have left on this planet. Zoos and aquariums no longer pique my interest anymore. This definitely gave me some insight as an individual human being and how much each one of us can play a part in preserving our world. Check out some of the work that was presented during my voyage about the dwindling numbers that some of the penguins and other species face here.
Hands down, this was the best trip of my life because there is nothing comparable to the sheer scale of diversity, both in landscape and wildlife. Another reason why? It made me believe in magic again. Not the form where you can make anything appear out of thin air, but more akin to the feeling where you are literally transported to another part of the planet that you had no idea existed. Want to see an example of what the world was like before we humans came? Just come here, period. Once you have made the trip, however, you soon realize you have been traveling all wrong.
Nothing had touched my soul the way the past 25 days have done. Having observed 7 different species of penguins, 3 kinds of whales, and 5 types of Antarctic seals and much more, I was reminded again of how precious life is and was reminded to always remain present in the moment. (Thrive medicine strategies never go away!)
Again…to all my Thrivers, get out there!
Stay tuned for my YouTube and Instagram updates!
Dr. Colin Zhu is a board-certified lifestyle medicine physician and plant-based chef and is the author of the new book: Thrive Medicine: How to Cultivate Your Desires and Elevate Your Life, now on Amazon, Audible, and iTunes.