Any true fan of Survivor is aware that this television show is no joke, and not at all fake. These contestants are fully immersed into the wild and tested to their limits every single day, with no possessions besides the clothing on their back. They are given very little to eat, only a few camp necessities, and absolute zero help along the way from the show’s production (unless they need medical attention). This show definitely isn’t for the faint at heart, which is why contestants are carefully selected from thousand applicants every year.
There are a number of things that the contestants have to endure throughout the show that a lot of viewers don’t catch whilst watching the show. I mean, it’s obvious that these cast members go through the absolute ringer with rainy, cold nights, not eating for days, not having a shower for weeks, and participating in challenges in some of the hottest climates on earth. However, as a viewer at home you usually bat an eye on these circumstances because the show usually focuses on airing game play and important conversations between contestants.
You seem to forget what these players are willing to go through for a million dollars, as the main focus is always who will be voted off at tribal council that night. But, this show is no joke and it shouldn’t be taken lightly what the players live through each day—truly living in the wild with all of the elements that come along with that. I mean, it ain't called ‘Survivor’ for nothing.
25 Taken an aqua dump
It’s no surprise that the contestants don’t have bathroom facilities whilst participating in the game, and this obviously means that doing a particular ‘business’ is harder than ever. In the past, certain cast members have found it easiest to do a ‘number two’ in the ocean, rather than trying to do their business on land.
It’s a tricky task to get away with (especially since there are always a million cameras pointed their direction), so it has been caught on camera in the past.
24 Eaten some questionable grub
Ah, the dreaded food challenge. Year after year, contestants are forced to participate in an exotic food eating challenge in order to win immunity. And no, it’s definitely not the exotic food that you want to eat.
Local delicacies including slugs, various types of insects, cow brain, mystery smoothies, and animal eyeballs are just a few that the contestants have had to stomach in the past.
Many have gotten extremely sick or downright refused to participate, jeopardising the prize for the team.
23 Huddle each other for warmth
Since the contestants can live through some pretty brutal weather, there is really only one thing that they can do when it gets too cold to bear: huddle up for maximised body heat. This is the best way to get through a cold night.
You will often see contestants spooning each other one by one in a massive row—there definitely isn’t any personal space when it comes to surviving the cold. It’s no wonder cast members get so close with each other so quickly!
22 Sleep in the pouring rain
The islands that the survivors reside on can produce extremely stunning weather, but can also generate some pretty gnarly storms as well. There have been occasions in the past where rain and wind storms have knocked over and completely ruined shelters, resulting in the contestants having to sleep in the pouring rain with absolutely nothing to protect them.
If you watch any post-show interview of a cast member, they will tell you that those nights are the times where they are tested the very most.
21 Lived through natural disasters
The show has experienced their fair share of bad weather over the years, but there are certain circumstances that are simply too unsafe for cast members to experience.
There have been two incidents in the past where production has had to evacuate the entire cast due to a cyclone, both times being in Fiji.
The most recent evacuation occurred on the season currently airing, Survivor: David vs. Goliath, where the teams dealt with relentless rain before they were eventually evacuated for two days.
20 Not showered for days
Most people can’t go a couple of days without a shower before feeling seriously gross. Well, for survivor contestants they don’t exactly have that option. Living in the wild means living without the basic necessities that are vital to feel like, well, a real human. No showers. No soap. No deodorant to keep you smelling nice.
Not to mention the contestants are sweating profusely every day, swimming in the ocean, and getting sand and dirt lodged in every crevasse. Embrace it, right?
19 Worn the same clothes for weeks on end
The contestants only arrive with the outfit on their back that they have to wear for the entirety of their time on survivor. Besides a buff given to them for their team colour, that is basically their only option.
Most people can’t even outfit repeat once, let alone for a few weeks. The contestants eat, sleep, and do all of their challenges in the same getup. But hey, makes it pretty easy when you don’t have to pick your outfit out in the morning.
18 Floss their teeth with twigs
Ever wonder how certain contestants seem to have pearly white teeth throughout their time on the show?
Well, the truth is that a lot of contestants get their teeth whitened before coming on, and they are on certain, special occasions given a toothbrush and toothpaste to use. However, on a regular basis contestants have to be creative with how they clean those pearly whites, and one way they accomplish this is by using small twigs and grass to floss them.
17 Hunt birds for food
Desperate calls for desperate measures. Certain challenges in the past have rewarded the winners with chickens to take back to their camp, which produces eggs for them to eat. However, in the past survivors have sacrificed chickens when they either stop producing eggs or they become extremely hungry. Some have actually succeeded in the past.
Contestants have also attempted to hunt wild birds, however they are restricted by producers on what they can and cannot hunt, due to respecting the wildlife of the land.
16 Go diving for lunch
This show is no joke. If you’re hungry, then be ready to hunt for your food source. Contestants are usually given fishing tools either at the very beginning or won through a challenge. These tools are extremely useful if you have someone who is experienced in spearfishing (A.K.A. diving deep in the ocean with a sharp spear and attempt to catch the quickly moving fish).
There have been many contestants in the past who have become pros at it, which becomes a useful quality to have when it comes to deciding who to vote out next.
15 Go days without eating
When the hunting fails or the contestants are feeling too weak to do so, there are many days where the contestants live off of 100 calories a day. The tribe usually has a small portion of rice per day that must be rationed and split evenly, and usually a coconut or two.
However, there have definitely been incidents where the tribe hasn’t eaten in a couple of days, but the show makes it a priority to not put the contestants in any danger of starving.
14 Live off of coconuts
As mentioned in the previous post, there is usually a large supply of coconuts around the campsite. That is, if you are skilled enough to climb the palm trees or knock them down with a rock. A lot of the time though, coconuts fall from the trees naturally, so there is usually no shortage of them around the island.
Coconuts become a food as well as a hydration source due to their quench-thirsting juices. If you are a fan of the show, you have probably seen the contestants with a coconut in their hand for a large chunk of filming.
13 Eaten insects (when they ran out of coconuts)
When you’re desperate, you will truly eat anything. Insects are a great source of protein, which is one food group that is definitely at a shortage whilst on Survivor.
Contestants have eaten all kinds of insects while on the show, including beetles, crickets, slugs, and the list goes on. Pretty much any source of protein that they can get their hands on is good enough. Usually the contestants don’t grow this desperate, but it has definitely happened in past seasons.
12 Spend hours trying to start a fire
Probably one of the most important tasks to accomplish while at camp is starting a fire, a source of cooking food and warmth on those chilly nights. However, this isn’t always the easiest task in the world. In the early days, the contestants aren’t always given the proper tools they need in order to start a fire, so it is always a struggle during the first few nights at camp.
Also, trying to start a fire when the ground is damp is nearly impossible, so when it rains it makes it even harder on them.
11 Use their hands to eat everything
It’s obvious that the contestants aren’t provided with fancy china to eat their food on throughout the show. It’s hard enough finding food to eat, let alone having the proper utensils. You would probably never eat a bowl of rice with your hands on the daily, however contestants don’t exactly take table manners into account. And why would they?
The food is also usually scarfed down within minutes, so who needs cutlery, plates, or even a napkin to wipe away the crumbs?
10 Been seriously injured
There have been a number of times in the past where contestants have been so seriously injured that they had to receive immediate medical attention, and sometimes even leave the show altogether. The contestants push themselves to their absolute limit during challenges with very little energy, so it’s no wonder that they injure themselves once in a while. A contestant will only be pulled if they are in need of a hospital visit, since it’s the show’s priority to keep everyone healthy and safe.
9 Live through blistering hot days
With destinations like Fiji, Cambodia, Australia, Africa, and The Amazon, it’s no question that the contestants are living in very hot and tropical conditions. Spending all of your time outside in those conditions can become very overwhelming and unbearable at times, especially during challenges where they are at times forced to be in direct sunlight for hours. Most people would go nuts at the chance to visit these exotic locations, while cast mates tend to grow very old of the constant humid weather for weeks on end.
8 And the extremely cold nights
From one extreme to the other—those hot days can bring some pretty chilly nights as well. This is especially true when a storm arrives, since the clothing on everyone’s back becomes soaking wet and therefore extremely uncomfortable and cold. The contestants also don’t have any blankets to keep them warm throughout the night, unless they were won during a reward challenge later on in the season.
This is why every contestant will always tell you that the nights can be extremely tough and relentless.
7 Scheme and lie to other players just to survive
This is obviously a given, and sometimes (well, always) the only way to survive on the show. While it’s not an honourable thing to do in real life circumstances, on Survivor it is pretty much necessary to tell a few (or a lot of) lies. You can’t really trust what anyone says to you, especially in the early days.
A lot of the time, a contestant will tell another exactly what they want to hear to ensure that their best laid out plans are a success.
6 Have no contact with family at home
A lot of contestants will admit that one of the hardest parts of being on the show is being away from the people they love back home. It’s definitely quite daunting to spend all of your time with strangers, not knowing if anyone is being genuine or not.
Being in an environment like that can definitely make you miss the people you care about most and that make you feel the most safe. Luckily, the contestants get the chance to see their family a couple of weeks into the show, when some family members are brought in for a reward challenge.
5 Participate in challenges on an empty stomach
It’s tough doing any day to day activity on an empty stomach, let alone push yourself to your absolute limits physically and mentally. The contestants must participate in challenges where they have to swim through the ocean, balance on high beams, dig their way through sand, and go through some of the most insane obstacle courses. This definitely isn’t an easy task when you have only eaten a few coconuts in the last 24 hours, but somehow the contestants push through.
4 Endure a million and one bug bites
Living in the wild means obviously enduring all of the things that come along with being outside 24/7—and that includes all of the creepy crawlers that reside on these islands. Whilst the contestants are at times given bug spray when the bugs get so bad that it would be detrimental to their health if they didn’t have it, the majority of the time they are not provided with it.
This results in, as you can imagine, a million of itchy and uncomfortable bug bites on pretty much every surface of their body.
3 Clean themselves with sand
Forget soap—sand is the only way in which these survivors get somewhat clean throughout their time on the island (high emphasis on somewhat). Rubbing sand on your body helps get a lot of dirt and sweat off because of its exfoliating powers, which is why you will frequently see contestants sitting on the shore rubbing themselves with sand and washing it off with the salty water.
On most days contestants simply surrender to the dirt and embrace being unclean, however it doesn’t hurt to scrub a little bit.
2 Use sticks and leaves as kitchen utensils
When the contestants aren’t eating with their hands, there are some natural tools that make great substitutes for real kitchen utensils. There are some sturdy leaves that double as plates, wood and sticks that can be carved into spoons and knives, and coconuts that are great to use as bowls.
There usually isn’t enough food to go around to need any, but if contestants make it past a couple of weeks they may feel the need to craft such tools.
1 Fainted from heat exhaustion/dehydration
The heat on these islands is no joke. If contestants don’t drink enough water on the daily, they can be in great danger of heat exhaustion and becoming too weak to participate in challenges, or even stay in the game.
There is always a medical team on site for these types of scenarios, as they can unfortunately be quite common throughout the game. The good news is, the contestants are always provided with an endless supply of water, they just have to ensure they are always staying hydrated.