I’d seen the brochures, salivated at the photos, and read high seas tales of fearless adventurers amidst the icy wastes – yet nothing could prepare me for my first taste of Antarctica. I didn’t sleep well – the sea was resting, but not many on board were, excited to be nearing Antarctica proper. We’d been to South Georgia, and it was more spectacular than I had imagined – the innumerable cacophonous penguins of Salisbury Plains an astounding scene to witness, and a toast to Shackleton at his final resting place a fitting tribute before heading south, accompanied for a while at our stern by an albatross. Dawn broke and a look outside revealed the world’s end in all its glory: our boat forged on, but now it shared the sea with enormous tabular icebergs, so much bigger than I thought they would be - vast floating cliffs in the pale waters, calving a chunk, sending it tumbling into the water. And then nearby we saw the flash of a whale’s fluke – slick and graceful as it dived. Probably a minke, we were later told. It was as enchanting an introduction to Antarctica as I could have possibly hoped for. Suddenly, we were tiny. And that wonderful feeling of being not only surrounded but consumed by nature continued as we explored the Antarctic Peninsula. We hopped on the zodiac to land at little islands where chinstrap penguins waddled around and seals sunbathed on dark rocks. Volcanoes reared up, frozen yet some still active, and our guides filled us in on the geology and biology of this unique place. You have to remember to not view the entire holiday through your camera lens – the light is so unpolluted and liquid-clear that the temptation is to keep clicking away, literally dazzled by everything you see. Putting the camera down and just feeling the elements – the silence, the changing colour of the ice and water – was mesmerising. You haven’t heard silence until you’ve been to Antarctica. And guaranteed, the best kayaking experience on the planet. I was initially slightly terrified at the prospect of a whale suddenly surfacing right next to me and sending me into the freezing depths, but the sense of calm that takes over as soon as you’re quietly schlopping along in the kayak dispels any anxiety. Paddling past grand icebergs, towering beasts that dwarf everything around then, is the ideal way to explore the waters – as peaceful as your surroundings, as adventurous as holidays get.