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The Series – Costa Rica

Image from the programme

In this adventure, Bear is dropped into the Costa Rican rainforest with just a knife and a water bottle.

First he must decide on his survival strategy. The best bet to reach civilization is to navigate using the rivers and streams which will eventually lead him out of the forest to the coast.

Image from the programme

Bear climbs a tree to get above the canopy so he can get an idea of where to head. This is extremely dangerous without equipment, but Bear knows what he is doing.

Finding a stream, he follows it to a 40-metre waterfall. The only way down is to make ropes from vines and climb down.

Image from the programme

Then he is struck with a painful dose of diarrhoea from contaminated water – this is very serious as it could lead to fatal dehydration. He has learnt that sap from the Milk tree or palo de vaca (Brosimum utile) naturally settles guts.

A shelter made from local palms keeps him out of the torrential rain and he is able to build a fire with a natural mosquito repellent made from a termite mound.

Image from the programme

Bear must fish at night, and forage for berries during the day.

Finally, he builds a raft to navigate the mangrove swamps, and heads to the open sea and safety.

Rainforest survival guide »


2-

The Series – The Alps

Image from the programme

On this journey, Bear parachutes into the French Alps, part of Europe's biggest and most beautiful mountain wilderness. The Alps extend to 80,000 square miles with highs of 15,000 feet.

Image from the programme

Every year, 120 million people visit to enjoy the snowy slopes, but about 80 of these are ill-equipped for survival in the extreme conditions and perish right there, on the mountains.

Image from the programme

Bear demonstrates how to stay alive in the icy landscape of the Alps. He builds a snow shelter that will keep the wind and frost off him at night, and save him from certain hypothermia. He simulates a fall into a frozen lake by diving right in, then demonstrates how best to get out of icy water and avoid hypothermia.

Image from the programme

As usual, he finds some unpleasant things to eat on the way. He bites into a raw trout, munches on maggots and moss and treats himself to a few berries for pudding.

Extreme cold survival guide 

3-

The Series – Everglades

Image from the programme
Bear tests his survival skills in the steamy swamps of the Florida Everglades. Every year 60 visitors die here. Some inevitably fall prey to the two million resident alligator population. Searing heat and deadly snakes claim what the gators leave behind!
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The Everglades is essentially a 40-mile wide, shallow river. It is an extraordinarily beautiful landscape, waterlogged, stretching out featureless for miles or diverting this way and that through mangrove forest.
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The waters are mostly waist-deep, but they are murky, and Bear needs to find dry land if he is to keep out of harm's, or jaws', way.
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But first he must cross open water and directly in his path are two 10-foot alligators. He decides to take the high route and shins over a fallen Cyprus tree. Even then he risks falling into the grip of the ever-patient predators.
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Spending the night in the swamps, Bear builds a shelter up a tree, with a fire to dry his feet. But with no natural mosquito repellant, there's very little rest to be had.
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The following day, he takes his biggest risk in the series – he must swim across an alligator-infested river…
Interesting in animal attack? Check out Anatomy of a Shark Bite.








4-

The Series – Desert Island

Image from the programme
Bear Grylls is a real-life Robinson Crusoe, washed up on the shores of an uninhabited Polynesian island. These beautiful islands attract millions of visitors, but every year over 1000 people get into trouble and the surrounding seas are some of the most deadly in the world.
Image from the programme
Bear drops into the sea two miles from the shoreline as if he were a stranded sailor. Just getting on to land is a fight itself; Bear must battle the crashing waves and fierce rip tides.
Image from the programme
Finding a sheltered beach, Bear builds a fire to attract rescuers and fishes for a well-earned supper. But finding water is a challenge on an island with no fresh springs. Coconut milk is the answer, but scaling palms is harder and more painful than it looks.
Image from the programme

Eventually, Bear decides to build a raft from bamboo and hibiscus bark that will take him to busy shipping lanes and increase his chances of being rescued. With a water bottle and a fishing line and hook, made from a fish bone, he sets to sea. He captures a surgeon fish, which has rather unpalatable razor sharp fins.

As there is no shade on the raft, Bear has to take regular dips in the water to cool off. On one occasion he finds himself face to face with one of the sea's most ruthless predators – a 17-foot tiger shark.

Find out why sharks attack


5-

The Series – Sierra Nevada

Image from the programme

Bear drops into a high altitude lake in the Sierra Nevada mountains of California, where 200 tourists are lost, injured or die every year.

First, he decides to head west towards the coast and away from the Nevada Desert. He's almost immediately forced to scale a huge cliff and risk a 350-foot drop from treacherous, slippery rocks.

Image from the programme

Using Native American techniques, he builds a raft for a quick way of following the river to lower ground. But dangerous rapids soon loom on the horizon and Bear is forced to abandon the raft.

As the sun sets and the temperature drops, he makes a simple shelter under a tree and lights a fire. The trees also provide pine needle tea in the morning; while a water snake makes a good breakfast, once you've bitten the head off.

Image from the programme

Bear tries his hand at capturing a wild horse using a lasso made from willow branches. He gets close but the horse gives him the slip at the last moment.

He builds a Native American shelter called a wickiup and makes a 'throwing stick' from heavy cedar to hunt for rabbits. Spit-cooked rabbit makes a good meal, but risks attracting black bears. Thankfully none turn up and Bear is able to concentrate on more homely pleasures, like making a toothbrush from a bush before settling for the night.

Hills and plains survival guide »

6-

The Series – Alaska

Image from the programme
This week, Bear braves the snow and ice of the Alaskan wilderness. Every year, a million visitors come to this winter wonderland to hike, climb and ski. Five hundred will get themselves lost, and of these, 23 die.
Image from the programme
Starting at 2750 metres, Bear skis downhill across three miles of virgin snow. With 12 metres of snow beneath him there is a real danger of activating avalanches, or plunging down a sheer drop. When he hits a glacier, Bear decides to follow it down – fast.
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Once at the bottom of the glacier, Bear follows a river that will surely lead him to civilization. He is undaunted when he meets a 70-metre waterfall and scales it safely.
Image from the programme
Before dark he builds a shelter with alder saplings and eats Eskimo potato root, which is packed with carbs. But his supper attracts the attention of bears. His only defense against the 3-metre tall, half-tonne animal is to surprise him with noise.
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The coast turns out to be more lonely than Bear had hoped for. With no settlements in sight, his best chance seems to be attracting the attention of a fishing boat with warning fire.
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When that doesn't work, an abandoned rowing boat offers a way out to sea. But when it starts to take on water, Bear is forced to swim in the freezing water and hope that a passing boat will spot him. He lives to tell to tale.

7-

The Series – The Moab Desert

Image from the programme
This week, Bear Grylls survives the unforgiving heat of Utah's Moab desert – 3600 square miles of canyons, cliffs and desert. Five million tourists come to experience the desert every year, and 200 are lost, injured or die.
Image from the programme
If he is to avoid sunstroke and dehydration, Bear's first priority must be to get out of the desiccating 45°C heat. He covers his head with his t-shirt and descends into a canyon where it seems cooler. But this turns out to be a bad idea, as he has a hell of a climb to get back up to the plateau.
Image from the programme
The journey is all about conserving water and Bear uses a Mexican tribal technique of keeping water in his mouth that is meant to reduce moisture loss through breathing. He also pees on his t-shirt-cum-hat in order to cool his head.
Image from the programme
Listening out for insects, Bear is eventually led to a spring for a well-earned drink and cooling dunk. Then, using compass cactuses that orientate themselves southwards, he heads in the direction of the rivers.
Image from the programme
With another cold night approaching, Bear finds a shelter and builds a fire. He searches for a snake supper, but disturbs a rattler and has to retreat to his cave. When his fire attracts more snakes, he scares them off by making ground vibrations.
Image from the programme
Arriving at the Colorado riverbank the next morning, Bear discovers quicksand and dives in for good measure, before fording the very wide and fast river to get to 


8-

The Series – Copper Canyon

Image from the programme

This week, Bear goes deep into Mexico's Copper Canyon. At four times the size of the Grand Canyon, it is the largest system of its kind in North America.

Set in the middle of a vast desert, it is a good backdrop for a classic Western film. Lots of hikers and trekkers come here to get a feel for the cowboy life, but 100 of them are lost or injured every year.

Image from the programme

Bear heads west towards the Chihuahua al Pacifico railway that runs the length of the canyon. It's cold and there's no water at the canyon rim, so Bear heads a mile straight down to the bottom. It's a hazardous journey with scorpions living in the rocks, although to Bear they are just another item on the menu.

He shelters in a cave that has been used by the local Raramuri tribe over generations and lights a fire using the traditional 'fire saw' method. The next morning, Bear shows how to make a compass using a piece of metal he finds in the cave, a leaf and a small pool of water.

Image from the programme

He follows animal tracks leading to a river at the bottom of the canyon and uses a tree to descend a waterfall. Without a fishing line, Bear catches a fish by damming the stream and stunning it with a stick. He also makes good use of local vegetation, using a cactus to purify water and as a depth gauge.

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