In 12 seasons, Naked and Afraid has gone to 35 countries on six continents. Survivalists have faced everything from relentless rain to hungry gators to bug bites in delicate places. Over the years, we've watched contestants survive everything from flesh eating bacteria to food comas.
So where was the harshest locale for the show? The Amazon rain forest? The Madagascar desert? The jungles of Thailand?
Cast members of the upcoming season say that those places are child's play compared to the other places they've survived.
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"The bayou of Louisiana was harder than any of the other locations I went to," says Naked and Afraid legend Matt Wright. "Everything about it was tough."
"Everything in Louisiana wants to kill you," adds fellow legend Steven Lee Hall Jr. "It was the hardest challenge of all of them that I faced." (That's saying a lot, considering that Hall did Naked and Afraid in the frozen Alaska tundra.)
Wright, Hall and 10 other of the show's biggest survivalists went to the Louisiana Bayou to participate in Naked and Afraid XL: Legends, the newest season of the show. Everything remains the same: they are stripped of their clothes dropped into the middle of nowhere with very few survival items.
Set across a massive 7,000 acres in Louisiana's infamous Atchafalaya Basin, the murky waters and impenetrable brush were lurking with predators — including territorial 10-foot alligators and North America's only venomous water snake, the cottonmouth. In addition to the threats they could see, survivalists had to contend with water was teeming with microscopic parasites that could burrow under the skin and create painful infections.
And unlike previous seasons where the participans must survive for 21 or 40 days, this crew has to survive 60 days in the brutal heat. And cast members tell PEOPLE that each one of those days was a challenge for their very survival.
"There were times where I thought the mosquitos were going to carry me off," laughs Wright, who has done five Naked and Afraid challenges. "The bugs there were worse than anything I've ever encountered."
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Hall says that there is a mistaken perception among Americans that all the harsh locations will be in other countries, not here in the United States.
"There are a lot of remote parts of America where the conditions are really rough," he says. "It's a big country. Yeah, we're relatively close to home, but there's no way to get to civilization on foot. If we had tried, we'd have to cross gator-invested tributaries and all sorts of swamp. We'd never make it to a McDonald's."
Naked and Afraid XL returns Sunday, April 25 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Discovery and will also stream on Discovery+.