Face-to-face with a wild cat is perhaps the ultimate objective for any safari-goer, but this man got more than he bargained for when a cheetah got a little too close for comfort. The vacationers are trying to remain cool as the feline jumps into their jeep. The astonishing moment was captured on video, and it is nothing short of thrilling.
Wildlife photographer Peter Heistein and his stepson Britton Hayes were guiding a safari group through Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park when a cheetah hopped into their car. While Heistein captured the stunning image, Hayes is struggling to remain calm as the wild cat approaches him.
“We were all watching the cheetah in front, and one of the brothers had flanked around the back and hopped in the back of the vehicle,” Hayes explained to Komo News. “He came over to sniff us out and make sure we weren’t a threat.” Even though the event lasted only a few moments, Hayes praises the tour guide with helping him remain calm during the unexpected experience.
“Alex[the guide] made sure I never made eye contact nor startled the cheetah, allowing the animal to see that it could trust us,” the man explained “I felt like I had to clear my mind of any thoughts because from everything you’re told about predators like that, they can sense fear and any sort of discomfort you’re feeling and they’ll react accordingly.” The curious feline wandered off into the savanna after nearly a minute of investigating the car. Fortunately, no one was wounded, and the tourists even joked about it afterwards.
“Honestly, it was probably one of the scariest moments of my life while it was happening. I was scared to death, but I’ve never felt more alive,” Hayes said. “Everyone in the car just looked at each other, we paused for 10 seconds as the cheetahs walked away and we couldn’t believe that we got out of the situation, that it was real.” You can watch the terrifying moment in the video below!