Sixteen or more castaways are split between two or more "Tribes", are taken to a remote isolated location and are forced to live off the land with meager supplies for roughly 39 days. Frequent physical challenges are used to pit the tribes against each other for Rewards, such as food or luxuries, or for "Immunity", forcing the other tribe to attend "Tribal Council", where they must vote off one of their players. Once about half the players are remaining, the tribes are merged into a single tribe, and competitions are on an individual basis; winning Immunity prevents that player from being voted out, while several that are voted out at this stage form the game's "Jury". Once down to two or three people, a Final Tribal Council is held where the remaining players plead their case to the jury members. The jury then votes for which player should be considered the "Sole Survivor" and win the $1 million prize. Survivor has introduced numerous modifications, or "twists", on the core rules in order to keep the players on their toes and to prevent players from relying on strategies that succeeded in prior seasons. These changes have included tribal switches, seasons starting with more than two tribes, the ability to exile a player from a tribe for a short time, Hidden Immunity Idols that players can use to save themselves at Tribal Council and a chance to return to regular gameplay after elimination through "Redemption Island".
The reality series pits the guys against the girls, as the 16 players are divided into single-sex tribes for this sixth edition. The eight men and eight women are stranded in Brazil's Amazon rain forest along the Rio Negro, a piranha-infested river, 35 miles from the port city of Manaus.
A tropical rainstorm soaks the women's camp, while the men stay dry, and the discovery of a hidden food item creates tension in one camp, as accusations swirl about who brought it and didn't share. Also: a second player is voted out.
The women's tribe elects a reluctant leader, while putting off a candidate who wanted the post. In the Reward Challenge, the two tribes get a chance to interact and the guys admit to having crushes on some of the ladies. Also: a third player is voted out.
One tribe goes on a group expedition, but purposely leaves behind a vulnerable member who then crafts a new strategy to survive. Also: An alliance within one tribe breaks down when one of its members becomes ill; and a fourth player is voted out.
Just as the men are getting comfortable with their severe environment, one of them is injured. In the women's camp, an overheard conversation leads to controversy. A fifth player is voted out.
A sixth person is voted out.
Some female castaways strip naked in an attempt to gain food items, and a distraught player struggles over the departure of a team member. Also: a mysterious locked box brings sweeping changes to the tribes, and a seventh person is voted out.
One player worries that members of the opposite sex are using their charms to manipulate other castaways and warns a fellow tribe member to be careful. Also: one player's fixation on sharpening the machetes creeps out fellow tribemates, and an eighth person is voted out.
A ninth person is voted out.
A review of this season's episodes features new footage. Included: the first night at the women's camp; Christy teaching sign language to her new tribe.
In an Auction Reward, the players bid on food items and on letters from home. Also: a 10th castaway is voted out.
An 11th player is voted out.
A fire rages through the camp and destroys everything, and one player becomes sick and begs to be the 12th player voted out.
The Sole Survivor in the Amazon is crowned as the reality series wraps up its sixth edition. The Final Four players are whittled down to two and the seven-person jury votes for the winner. “It's a toss-up when we get to the Final Two,” says host Jeff Probst. “It's not a sure thing.” The big change in the finale, says Probst, is that the concluding vote takes place immediately following the last Immunity Challenge. “There's no time to think about it,” he says.