Fire up the Tiki torch and pass the Doritos. Survivor Gabon: Earth’s Last Eden—the first Survivor shot in high definition–begins tonight at 8 p.m. on Global and CBS. The two-hour premiere returns the franchise to Africa for the first time in seven years. The original Survivor: Africa is remembered as one of the most challenging and torturous ever and insiders say this edition is no walk in the jungle, either.
Eighteen contestants have been selected to compete for the million-dollar top prize. But what does it take to become a Survivor champion? I put that question to three competitors from Survivor Micronesia: Fans vs. Favorites—James Clement, Oscar “Ozzie” Lusth and winner Parvati Shallow—who were in Toronto last June at Global’s fall upfront. Here are there Top-5 Survivor tips:
TIP NO. 1: Form alliances early. “Immediately,” says Shallow. “You should have a solid alliance that you can trust in the beginning.” Clement agrees, saying that you’ve got to hope that the alliance you make early on “is solid enough at least for the first stages of the game. You’ve got to understand that the first stage is really important to get past. Once you get past it, things start to mellow out a little bit.”
One warning from Shallow, however: “Don’t trust your alliance.”
TIP NO. 2: Play to your strength. Says Shallow: “If you are really strong in challenges, be the challenge dominator. If you have good social skills and make friends easily, use that and work people. You kind of have to be who you are and work with the skill set that you have.”
Maybe, says Lusth, although in his experience, winning challenges alone won’t win you the million. “Challenges don’t work,” he says. “Practice your talking. The talkers win.”
TIP NO. 3: Practice starting fires and building shelters. Shallow says her dad helped her learn the basics. “You should probably practice using a machete,” she suggests. Lusth says to read one of the Survivor books that are out there. Clement says knowing how to build a shelter is important but Shallow says it is overrated. “What ever you build is going to get rained on and leak.”
TIP NO. 4: Get on an All-Star edition of the series. Lusth, who also survived Cook Islands, says the fans vs. favorites game in Micronesia was a far more pleasant experience. “It was like a vacation, we were chillin’,” he says. “We had a cave, we had food, we had girls…it was a whole different thing.”
TIP No. 5: Finally, some very practical advice from Shallow: “Get a good solid bathing suit,” she says. “You want one that is indestructible.”

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