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  1. The rainbow does not mean that the wait for rain was over, wishes fulfilled. Distant showers bathed the crater, not Ndutu. I was told that when you see a rainbow on the horizon you won’t get rain anytime soon where you stand. Those words proved accurate. Itinerary – February 2017 7 total nights Ndutu (Njozi Camp), split in the middle by 3 nights Kusini (Kimondo Camp) 6 Depart Chicago on KLM 7 Arrive JRO, o/nt Tulip 8, 9, 10 Ndutu at Njozi Camp. 7-ish hour drive from Arusha. Njozi indoor dining area, as lovely as the outdoor area 11, 12, 13 Kusini at Kimondo Camp. 1.5 hour drive from Njozi Camp View from Kusini, Ngorongoro Mountains in background 14, 15, 16, 17 (back to) Ndutu at Njozi Camp 1.5 hour drive from Kimondo Camp Njozi tent. Njozi means dream and it was very comfortable for sweet dreams. 18 Ndutu to JRO, depart on KLM. 7.75-ish hour drive from Njozi Camp 19 Arrive Chicago, KLM This itinerary split a week in Ndutu into two stays, with a 3-day gap between. I was trying to be in Ndutu close to the start of the rains and then return for what is traditionally peak birthing time in mid-February. Kusini, also excellently located for green season travel, divided the two Ndutu segments. We were out each day about 12 hours with packed breakfast and lunch, as has always been the approach with The Wild Source in Feb and March in Ndutu/Serengeti. We usually ate lunch outside of the vehicle and stretched our legs. There were even lawn chairs to sit on. (Of course, you don’t have to be out 12 hours/day; it’s just a nice option.) George was the guide from the 8th to the 14th. Deo was the guide from the 15th to the 18th. Both were marvelous throughout. Great guides and great guys! This split-Ndutu approach was also used by @FlyTraveler this past Feb. We tried to meet in Ndutu but did not manage it. As you can see by the map, Kusini is in Southern Serengeti, and it even means “south” in Swahili. It was a good itinerary, even if the rains did not cooperate. In Nov-Dec, rain was sparse. Then after what seemed a promising start in late Jan-early Feb, the spigot was shut off. Instead of lush, green habitat, we had dry, often dust-blown conditions. This is Lake Ndutu, its entire perimeter captured in this NON-panoramic shot. Very little water. “The sky is practicing cloudy,” is The Quote of the Trip, and was originally provided by a Botswana guide back in August 2005. Most every afternoon was cloudy practice overhead, but the clouds always dissipated by nightfall and no rain. Evidence of “the sky is practicing cloudy.” Unfortunately, no rain followed. Ndutu. Despite these arid conditions, within 45 minutes of entering Ndutu, we saw 10!! cheetah!! Two families of a mother and 4 cubs boost duma totals quickly. Those 10 represented about a third of our total cheetah sightings this trip (some were the same cats seen more than once). Mother and 4 nearly adult cubs, Ndutu Pile ‘o sleeping cheetah, Ndutu The second cheetah family of four had younger cubs. Mother and 4 approx 4-month old cubs, Ndutu One of the approx. 4-month old cubs, Ndutu We encountered the mother with four near adult cubs again in a situation that was both record setting and appalling. The record setting occurred when 2 males appeared, paying close attention to the family. There could soon be several females of interest for the males between the maturing female cubs and the mother, who would be receptive again when her cubs left. The result was 7 cheetah in one view. A coalition, plus! 7 cheetah can be counted – a mother & 4 near-adult cubs plus two males. Seen on the plain halfway between big marsh and small marsh Mother cheetah checking out the intruding males 3 of 4 near adult cubs and Mom The appalling part was that a hot air balloon landed illegally right where these 7 cheetah were milling about, and then the crew proceeded to set up the breakfast table. George pointed out they were not allowed to do that. “The wind pushed us,” was their excuse. Yeah, right. Mother Cheetah had enough to worry about with the gentlemen callers and did not need a balloon safari to contend with. Fortunately, all the cheetah seemed to ignore the entire balloon affair and distanced themselves with an air of disdain. Note the family is more interested in the male cheetahs (out of the frame) than the balloon behind them. to be continued

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