In search of pancakes, I stumbled upon an ocean of wonder


The ocean follows Tyrone Naidoo wherever he goes, even when he’s nowhere near it. Growing up in Cape Town, his dad took him on drives along the coast every Sunday. “We’d sit at the beach and have our meal as a family,” Naidoo says. “It brought us together.” Everything changed later in life when he moved to Johannesburg. “The sea was a huge part of my childhood,” Naidoo says. “Leaving it behind was a hard pill to swallow.” In the concrete jungle, he didn’t expect to experience anything like his beach adventures. That is, until the day Naidoo decided to go just outside of Gauteng to find a pancake restaurant he’d heard of. He stumbled upon Hartbeespoort Dam instead.

The moment Naidoo saw a large body of water in the distance, he felt like he was back home. “I asked my friend, ‘Are we close to the ocean?’” Naidoo says. Ever since, he has made a habit of returning. Standing on a jetty surrounded by the expansive waters that mirror the sky above, Naidoo has the space to think. “There’s a sense of solitude that allows me to reflect,” he says. The towering Magaliesberg mountains surrounding the dam and the symmetry of boats on the water take Naidoo straight back to the past. Both are reminiscent of the Simonstown harbour that he and his family explored when Naidoo was younger. “I can’t help but feel a tinge of nostalgia,” he says.

Over the years, Naidoo has come to share the joy that this place brings him. “When my family and I need to escape, we visit the dam,” he says. The road leading to it passes through a lengthy tunnel through the mountains. It opens up to cross over the top of the dam wall, offering a spectacular view of the water below. “I didn’t think anything could come close to the beauty I was used to, but this place is full of surprises,” Naidoo says. The ideal spot for parasailing, jet skiing and windsurfing, Hartbeespoort is one of the most well-known holiday destinations in the North West province. Naidoo went there in search of pancakes, but along the way he discovered a piece of home. “No matter where you go, you can always find happiness,” he says.