Full Show Index
Advertise With Us
Write For Us
Survivor Strikes Gold in the Amazonby Louise “Wezzie” Craven -- 01/10/2003
View Printable version of this article
Survivor: The Amazon is ‘in the can.’ In February 2003, millions of viewers will be introduced to “sixteen strangers” and to another part of the world. Filming occurred near “Encontro das Aguas” (Meeting of the Waters) where the muddy waters of Rio Solimões meet the black waters of Rio Negro to form the mighty Amazon of Brazil.
Survivor chose a location that offered the logistical requirements needed by their sophisticated production. Cargo containers of equipment arrived at the Port of Manaus and were transported to the production and film sites via the Manaus Ferry – Manacapuru highway. Filming locations were a short boat ride from the crew camp at the Ariau’ Amazon Towers Lodge on the Rio Ariau, on Praia Grande beach and at a privately owned nature reserve. The Amazon offered the privacy and security desired by its producer, plus the appearance of remoteness and isolation that is key to Survivor’s theme.
Survivor: The Amazon filming locations were on reserved public and private land. In the past, negotiations between SEG, Inc. (Survivor Entertainment Group, Inc.) and landowners have been as complicated as the filming itself. On Nuku Hiva, one landowner demanded a dock, a bridge, a new boat, a power station, a church, and 15 million dollars for the use of his land (the case was later thrown out of court). In Kenya, political careers in the small northern townships were threatened over payment distributions.
Negotiations in Brazil were kept top secret, but early reports claimed that SEG, Inc. was unwilling to pay the price the Ariau’ Towers was requesting (a rumored $500,000 per month) and local translators were refusing to work for the daily rate that was being offered. While yet monetarily uncompensated, the owner of nature reserve hopes that Survivor: The Amazon will bring worldwide attention to his reserve and NGO, CEPECAM. Without "A Floresta da Vida" reserve, Survivor could not have been filmed in that part of the Amazon.
CBS/SEG’s contributions to the local people are always considerable. Immediate benefits include generous payments and employment. Over 400 local people were employed in the production of Survivor: The Amazon. The Tribal Council set was built by craftsmen from the island of Parintins, an area famous for the Boi Bumba, a “festa” (festival) similar to “Carnaval,” involving dancers, singers, and bands. Less publicized are SEG’s contributions of equipment and construction, including building houses and tourist bungalows, installing fresh water and high-tech waste systems, beach clean-up, and donations of satellite phone systems and computers to local agencies following past Survivor seasons.
Survivor highlights each country’s attractions, including a balloon safari in Kenya, snorkeling off Australia’s coast, a Polynesian feast in the Marquesas, and an elephant trek through the jungles of Thailand. While still a mystery, perhaps a zip-line tour of the jungle canopy or an evening of Brazilian music and dance was rewarded to the lucky contestants of Survivor: The Amazon.
The star of Survivor: The Amazon may be "A Floresta da Vida" (The Forest of Life) reserve where many scenes were filmed, including the final 20 days of the game. It is said that “the most important and the final parts of Survivor” were shot within The Forest of Life, a labyrinth of rivers and tributaries. Local sources indicate that the merge camp was located on a tributary named "The Sanctuary of Patauá.” Here, contestants lived among alligators, fished for deadly piranhas, visited neighboring native villages, and swam in the Rio Negro near the reserve’s Terra Verde Lodge. Nego and Evandro, two jungle guides employed at the Terra Verde, may have provided survival training.
Hunting was not allowed, but food was plentiful as long as they knew how to find it and whether it was poisonous. Survivor contestants might have eaten "AÇAI", a delicious type of grape, SOLVEIRA, PEPINO DA SELVA, and/or nuts from "CASTANHA DO PARÁ" and "BABAÇO DA SELVA." There are small nutritious worms of the same name that can be eaten raw or cooked. Should hunger be great, the jungle has numerous insects of various sizes that are quite edible. There is a practically incalculable amount and variety of fish to be eaten. The most delicious are TUCUNARE’, TAMBAQUI, MATRINCHA, and SURUBIM. Even the deadly Piranhas, when well prepared, are tasty and nutritious. Obtaining fresh water doesn’t seem to have been a problem. There are many tributaries and “CIPOS” in the jungle.
The dangers of the jungle include Onça Pintada (jaguar), Onça Vermelha, Gato Maracajá, wild pigs called “Quexiadas e Catitu,” Tamanduá Mambira e Tamanduá Bandeira, and Capivaras. Speaking of snakes The Forest of Life has many! Among the most known are “SUCURI” (anaconda), Sucuriju, Pico de Jaca, Jararaca, Cobra Papagaio, Surucucu, and many more. Another danger is the poisonous spiders, like CARANGUEJEIRA CABELUDA and ARANHA MACACO, which can jump two meters. Ants also can be just as dangerous, e.g., TUCANDEIRAS. Monkeys never attack, but if you catch them they’ll bite in defense. The most common monkeys are Guaribas, Prego, Paraçu, Cabeludo, Cairara, and Macacos de Noite.
Founded in 1976 by Zygmunt Sulistrowski on the historical ranch Fazenda São Francisco, the reserve encompasses 27,000 acres of centuries-old virgin rain forest. In 1988, Zygmunt founded the NGO CEPECAM – Centro de Pesquisa e da Preservacao da Ecologia Amazonense (The Research and Preservation Center of the Amazonian Ecology) to preserve, protect, and study the rich biodiversity of the area and to publicize the importance and splendor of Amazonian ecology.
During his career, Polish born Zygmunt Sulistrowski directed and produced feature films in most of the world’s tropical countries, winning prizes at the Cannes, Berlin, and São Paulo, Brazil international film festivals. In 1998, Zygmunt left the glorious life of international filmmaker in order to protect Amazonian ecology at his Forest of Life.
In 1992, on a spectacular border of the reserve, Zygmunt designed and constructed his ecological jungle lodge Terra Verde Lodge (The Green Land Lodge). In June of 1997, Dr. Francisco Ritta Bernardino, the creator and owner of the Ariau’ Amazon Towers, joined Zygmunt as part owner. Their partnership served Survivor: The Amazon well. The Ariau’ served as production camp and home for the crew, just a thirty-minute boat ride from The Forest of Life.
For 26 years "The Forest of Life" has been successfully preserved by Zygmunt’s money, work, enthusiasm, and love for nature. Satellite images indicate that The Forest of Life is the only large primary rain forest still existing in the area between the cities of Manaus, Iranduba, and Manacapuru, and between the rivers Rio Negro and Rio Solimões. Zygmunt hopes to form an "Amazonian-International Foundation” to take over The Forest of Life to assure the continuation of this fabulous ecological reserve in the case that, “ by God's will, I am no longer here.”
For more information on the location, check out Survivor Maps by Dan Bollinger!
And for additional information on some of the locations mentioned here, you can check out these sites as well:
Be sure to sign up for our e-mail update so you can stay informed about new articles on the site! And take a look at the rest of the site. You can find all of our recent Survivor articles at the Survivor: Thailand page and take a look at our sections on Big Brother 3 and The Osbournes. You can even buy reality show stuff at our Reality TV Store!
View Printable version of this article