Monday, April 9, 2012

Discovery Channel's Out of the Wild: Venezuela - Get your Survivalist Fix

Out of the Wild: Venezuela - The Volunteers

The premise: 9 ordinary people dropped off in Venezuela's southern frontier with basic supplies. The goal is to travel 70 miles through a remote area and make there way back into civilization.

Here's what I liked about this series - while most survival reality tv shows have a handsome reward in the form of monetary gain at the end for those who completes the challenge, this particular show has none. Its reward is the experience in itself. The participants joined for self-exploration / self-improvement / the thrill of the adventure, etc. Not to mention the tremendous bragging rights.

The participants were put through a 3 day crash course on survival skills training. They were allowed to bring the items in the list provided:

1 Pair of good hiking boots
1 Pair of trainers (aka running shoes)
3-5 pairs of socks
1 rain jacket (Gore-Tex or rubber)
1 pair of rain pants (Gore-Tex or rubber)
1 fleece jacket or wool sweater for warmth
3 pairs of underwear (not cotton)
Malarial drugs
 2 pairs of long pants
2 long sleeve shirts
bandannas — suggested
Hat — Wide brimmed or baseball
2 T-shirts
2 pairs of shorts
Bathing Suit

Source: Discovery channel

In addition they were allowed to gather additional supplies near the drop-off point from a supply cache, keeping in mind that they would only be adding to the weight they'd have to haul along.

Supply cache:
2 small metal framed military backpacks
7 Pemon packs
4 bows with real barbed 1 and 2 point arrows
1 flint stone rock
1 spool of bailing wire
1 yucca strainer
1 big fish trap
10 fish hooks
9 GPS Beacon transmitters
1 small dutch oven-style metal pan
1 big dutch oven-style metal pan
1 skillet
1 spool of 1/2" twine approx. 50' in length
2 broad blade hunting knives with leather belt sheaths
1 Pemon big drop basket
4 small gourds
1 large gourd with cork
3 machetes (small Pemon-style)
3 Pemon baskets
1 big flashlight and 4 extra batteries
9 mosquito nets
2 candles
9 whistles
 1 magnifying glass
1 axe with handle
1 axe without handle
1 hatchet
2 military belt-mount canteens
7 round shoulder slung canteens
9 pairs rubber boots
9 hammocks
1 roll of 1/8" parachute cord-style twine
4 pairs of leather gloves
1 oversized metal cooking pot/wash basin
2 maps per leg
300 electrolyte tabs
3 tall baby food jars
2 boxes of tampons
1 compass
1 lb of Pemon ground grain
1 Block of local back salt beef
5 military fleece blankets
1 spool of spare slingshot cord
1 palm hook knife with no handle
1 roll of screen mosquito net
1 file for sharpening
1 small roll of duct tape 

Source: Discovery Channel

I sat down and pretty much watched the 8 episodes of the series in two days. It was an engaging show - interesting people with very different background stories, beautiful and dangerous terrain, of course some conflict (this is inevitable in a group setting, especially under these very stressful conditions). As the show progresses, you can see how much weight the members lose from caloric intake deficiency.

Each participant has a gps locator beacon system that they can use should they choose to leave at any time. All they have to do is press the button and the helicopter extracts them. No spoilers here, you'll have to find out who leaves and who stays.

It took the remaining volunteers twenty six days to reach civilization.

Hands down the best reality tv survival show I've seen so far. 5 out of 5 stars.

Currently available for Instant Play in Netflix (as of April 9, 2012) or you can watch the entire season 3 at Vimeo starting with Episode 1 right below:

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