A cheetah straddled a Jeep carrying American tourists, turning a Serengeti excursion into something far more frightening.
Stunning video shows the moment a cheetah mounted an open-top vehicle and peered in on the trembling travelers below.
The video, recorded from a few vehicles back in the safari caravan, shows a cheetah strolling leisurely up to the car and jumping on it. DailyMail.com spoke with Jennifer Shimek, who witnessed the once-in-a-lifetime encounter while traveling through Botswana with her family.
‘Oh my god,’ Shimek can be heard saying in the video. ‘He’s on top of the vehicle! He’s going to leap in!’
The cheetah took a casual stroll across the Jeep’s awning before lying down, oblivious to the commotion it had caused.
Shimek’s 17-year-old daughter Kaitlin, who was filming the scene, burst into laughter when she saw her mother’s terrified reaction.
After about a minute, the cheetah grew bored of its new position and scampered into the grassland.
‘I couldn’t believe it,’ Shimek recalled. ‘I was afraid and just hoping that it wouldn’t come to our car.’
The mother stated that she asked the guide what they should do if a cheetah got into their vehicle, to which his response caught her by surprise.
The guide said: “Sit completely still. I asked, ‘Are you insane?’ according to Shimek. “Getting out of the vehicle might be considerably more hazardous because of the other animals around,” he added.
Shimek recalled: ‘I was terrified at the time, but it was just wonderful to see how beautiful this cheetah was and to be so up close.’
The encounter took place on Shimek’s nine-day tour of Tanzania with her husband Rich and their 17-year-old twins Kaitlin and Ryan.
The Shimeks visited some of Tanzania’s most famous attractions, including Kilimanjaro, Tarangire National Park, and the Ngorongoro Crater, but the Serengeti safari was her favorite.
‘Everyone knows that I’m a huge animal lover, and I adore them,’ Shimek said. ‘When we first arrived at the park, it was stunning. Animals upon animals! And we were practically touching them!’ “Shimek stated.
‘There were a few elephants standing right next to the safari vehicle. Giraffes were eating on the trees. Zebras and their young were running in front of our vehicles, crossing the road. Wildebeest were migrating from Tanzania’s Serengeti to Kenya’s Masai Mara Serengeti.’
At Tarangire, the family had another hair-raising encounter with wildlife when a “grumpy old elephant” pursued them.
‘I was so scared, saying to our guide: “Go, go, go!”‘ Shimek said.
‘The elephant’s ears were out as we ran, and he was creating a lot of commotion. He was displeased that we had tried to pass him on the road in our Land Rover. Of course, I wish I had that on video,’ she added.
Shimek, a partner at an accounting firm, said the trip was a ‘truly life-changing experience.’
She went on to say that she’s grateful the family was able to return home to Summit, New Jersey, where they’re already thinking about returning to Tanzania.