Survivors ready? Go!

Jeff Probst when starting a challenge.

Challenges are competitions in Survivor where the contestants convene and battle for a certain prize, whether it is for creature comforts or safety from elimination.


Each episode of Survivor generally contains two challenges. An Immunity Challenge, whether individual or tribal, and commonly a Reward Challenge. Challenges can be physical or mental in nature, and provide prizes, in the form of a reward or immunity from the next vote, to the victorious contestants.

Behind The Scenes

After the tribes have been notified about the upcoming challenge via Tree Mail, they would be transported in vans with blacked-out windows. The reason behind the covered windows is to prevent the survivors from seeing base camp. The castaways are not allowed to talk to each other until they reach the challenge grounds so no critical moment will be missed when the cameras are down. Upon reaching challenge grounds, the castaways would be sequestered until they are called by the host. The tribes convene at the challenge area, starting with the tribe that won the previous Immunity Challenge, then followed by the tribe that lost a member at the previous Tribal Council. This is to extract suspense to the tribe that won the last Immunity Challenge.

After giving the instructions of the challenge, the host would give them a further rundown of the challenge (which usually happens off screen) before they strategize. When the tribes strategize, they would assign certain tasks to members, while also deciding which tribe members will be sitting out, if the tribe has more members than the rival tribe. In uncommon situations, both tribes sit out tribe members.

In his Tout page, Jeff Probst revealed if the challenge is individual-based, the castaways would draw rocks to determine their spots in the challenge.

Contestants are obliged to participate in challenges. If a tribe or single player does not want to participate in a challenge, they are breaching their contract (see Survivor Rulebook). As a solution, they purposefully lose to the rival tribe. There have been few tribes who threw challenges because they want to eliminate an unliked contestant, while players who refuse to do a challenge are still to participate.

Types of Challenges

Reward Challenge

See Reward Challenge.

Immunity Challenge

See Immunity Challenge.

Combined Reward/Immunity Challenge

Several seasons would have an inaugural challenge that is for both reward and immunity.

In the advent of the Redemption Island twist, most challenges would be both for a reward and tribal/individual immunity (though, post-merge, the reward part appears less often).

Redemption Island duel

See Redemption Island.

Do-It-Yourself Challenges

See Do-It-Yourself Challenge


  • Pagong is the first Survivor tribe to win a challenge.
    • Tagi is the first tribe to lose a challenge.
  • For the viewers to not see the microphones during a challenge where audio would be a problem (such as a challenge that would require more locomotive movement such as obstacle course), the production crew would plant microphones around the challenge area and conceal them behind challenge props and surrounding rocks, grasses or termite mounds.[1] Furthermore, if a challenge needs minimal running or walking, the contestants wear lapel microphones.
  • Journalists who visit the production crew are invited to join the Dream Team to rehearse challenges. They usually compete against the Dream Team.
  • In most post-merge team challenges, the colors used in the challenge props' colors are still based from the season's starting tribes.
  • Phillip Sheppard is the first person to not participate in an Individual Immunity Challenge without being tempted out.
    • He is also the first person to be voted out, when they did not participate in an Immunity Challenge, by their own decision without being tempted out of it by food.
  • Five castaways have made it to the merge with only one challenge win: Lillian Morris (Pearl Islands), Mookie Lee (Fiji), Michael Snow (Caramoan), Katie Collins (Blood vs. Water), and Vytas Baskauskas (Blood vs. Water).
    • However, Mookie and Michael both "won" tribal immunity by virtue of the other tribe electing to give it up.


  1. Probst, Jeffrey Lee (February 1, 2011). "Survivor: Gabon - Things You Don't See". Jeff Probst. Retrieved February 9, 2012. 

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