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New Jersey Family Captures 'Amazing' Close Encounter with Cheetah on Trip to Serengeti

Kelli Bender
New Jersey Family Captures 'Amazing' Close Encounter with Cheetah on Trip to Serengeti

The roof of a safari vehicle traveling through the Serengeti in Tanzania became the perfect perch for a big cat.

Jennifer Shimek of Summit, New Jersey, went on trip to the Serengeti with her adventure loving family in August.

“As you can imagine, when we first pulled into the park it was breathtaking. Animals upon animals. And we were so close to them!!! It was unbelievable!!” Shimek, 44, said of her trip in a statement obtained by PEOPLE. “Elephants right next to the safari jeep. Giraffes eating from the trees. Zebras’ and their babies running in front of our cars and crossing the road. Wildebeests migrating from the Serengeti in Tanzania to the Masai Mara Serengeti in Kenya.”

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Little did Shimek, her husband and two twin teens know, but the animal encounters were about to get even more breathtaking. During one of their safari trips through the Serengeti, the family watched a cheetah leap on to the roof of a safari vehicle in front of theirs.

Shimek was able to capture the heart-pumping moment on camera.

Courtesy Jennifer Shimek

“I couldn’t believe it. I was so scared for them and just hoping it was not going to come to our vehicle. As you can see all of the vehicles have roofs that are open and I was so scared he would come in,” she said of the close encounter.

Shimek added that she asked her family’s guide what they should do if a cheetah ended up on top of their vehicle.

“He said ‘Sit very still.’ I said, ‘Sit still – Are you crazy?'” the mom of two added.

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According to UPI, the cheetah ended up hopping off the safari vehicle and steered clear of Shimek’s car. No animals or humans were injured during the incident.

Once Shimek overcame her initial fear of the big cat, she enjoyed seeing the spotted animal up close.

“It was just so amazing to see how beautiful this cheetah was,” she said.