Orienteering (L'épreuve de l'orientation or simply L'orientation in French) is the first final challenge in Koh-Lanta since Bocas del Toro. It places the Final Four or the Final Five players in a jungle, where they must find a specific object (a dagger since Raja Ampat) in the neighboring jungle, only with a map and a compass.
Each castaway is given a map and a compass. The map points to three specific circled areas in the jungle, in which a landmark is located. In a certain radius of the landmark (usually 15 or 20 steps), is hidden a beacon, which shows a color and a number. The color corresponds to one of the eight possible directions (N, NW, W, SW, S, SE, E, NE) and has to be identified at the orienteering table at the starting point. The number indicates the number of steps in that given direction, where the object is located. The object can be hidden in tall grass, a tree, a rock, or even in plain sight.
Finding an object qualifies the contestant for the second final challenge, which is the Poles challenge. Once a contestant gets back to the starting point with its object, an air horn is used, to let the others know there's one less object to be found. Finishing first, second or third doesn't have any impact for the following challenge. The only thing that matters is to not be the one to be empty-handed at the end.
The challenge appeared in Bocas Del Toro in a different form than it currently is. The four contestants had to find a bottle in the sea, which contained a paper with a symbol written on it (cross, square, circle, triangle). Each contestant had to find a pole with that symbol and dig at its base to find a chest, and that chest contained a note, indicating that three paddles where hidden in the jungle "in front of them". Isabelle was very quick to find a paddle, and Delphine caught up quickly by following the piece of advice given my the note. Moussa found the third one, eliminating Antoine.
In Panama, the four contestants had to find one the three masks hidden on a small island (320,000 sq. ft), without any map or compass. This Orienteering challenge was the only time in history where the loser wasn't immediately eliminated, but only gave an Extra Vote penalty at the following Tribal Council, which meant the winner of the challenge could still have been voted out. But ultimately, Romuald, who lost the challenge, was still voted out unanimously.
Pacifique introduced the map and compass, the landmarks and the beacons. The compass could only be obtained after retrieving the map locked into a chest. The beacon, located in a 10-step radius from each landmark, indicated both the number of steps and the direction directly, without any color. Four seashells where hidden, and the first three contestants to find and return the seashells would qualify for the Poles. Francis would establish the record to find an object, taking only 20 minutes. Alexis, despite finding a landmark first, was unable to find its seashell, losing the challenge.
In Vanuatu, four mask sculptures were hidden directly around the landmarks, there was no beacon to find beforehand. Ludovic couldn't find any of the landmarks, and wasn't able to find a sculpture, which eliminated him.
Palawan's orienteering challenge was about finding four carved rocks. Beacons were reintroduced, and unlike the previous two seasons, the map and the compass were given simultaneously. The beacons were located, this time, in a 15-step radius from the landmarks. For the first and only time ever, that challenge took place over two days, as neither Maryline nor Simon managed to find their object before dusk. While Jade and Kevin were allowed to come back to the tribe's camp, Maryline and Simon had to spend the night on location. The following day, as a way to facilitate things, Denis allowed both candidates to start a step forward: Maryline, who found her landmark, was put at the corresponding beacon, while Simon, who didn't find anything, was put at the remaining landmark. Maryline found her carved rock first, qualifying her for the Poles.
In Caramoan, they had to find a small shield. Beacons were this time located in a 20-step radius around the landmarks. Frédéric equalled Francis' speed record in Pacifique, finding its object in 20 minutes (but the beacon was harder to find this time around). Nathalie was the only contestant to not find a shield, and was eliminated.
Le Retour des Héros was the first season that introduced the color system: from now on, the beacons would no longer directly give the direction but a color. The link between each color and direction could be found on a large map at the starting point (contestants were allowed memorize the correlation table). The castaways had to find a giant chestnut. The challenge was even harder as the four beacons were located in a 25-step radius around their respective landmark. Jade and Romuald already took part to orienteering in their own season, while Filomène and Jean-Bernard discovered this challenge. Jade, finishing first, became the first contestant to take part to the Poles challenge a second time. Jean-Bernard couldn't find a chestnut and was eliminated.
In Palau, the number of hidden objects in the jungle was reduced to three, meaning that the last two castaways battling for the last object will have to search in the same area, and someone will necessarily return empty handed. The contestants had to find a seashell, after retrieving a beacon located in a 25-step radius around each landmark. For the first time ever, a contestant, Christina, managed to find a seashell directly, without even finding a beacon, and finished first. Fabienne finished last.
Le Choc des Héros marked the first time where this challenge was disputed between the Final Five. Three seashells where hidden this time again (meaning three contestants would look out for the last seashell), and the radius around the landmarks was reduced to 20 steps. None of the contestants faced this challenge before, as Linda was a finalist before this challenge was introduced in the show. Linda and Coumba were eliminated, allowing the first all-male Final Three in the history of the show, between Freddy, Christophe and Grégoire.
Viêtnam's orienteering had the same rules as the previous season but came back to a Final Four. Each contestant had to retrieve one of the three hidden small statues. Véronique, the oldest contestant of the season, was eliminated.
Raja Ampat introduced daggers as being the objects to find. This time, there was no number on the beacon, only a color - the correlation table on the big map at the start would both give the direction and the number of steps to do. Teheiura was the first to find his dagger in only 40 minutes. Gérard finished second in 2 hours and Laurent managed to grab the last dagger after 3 hours and 40 minutes, eliminating Ella.
In La Revanche des Héros, the challenge was disputed between the Final Five. It returned to the "classic" rules by reintroducing the number on the beacon, and once again, the object to find was a dagger. The radius was reduced to 15 steps around the landmarks. Maud, despite being the only contestant in the Final Five to not have taken part to this challenge, finished first in 1 hour and 55 minutes. She was followed by Claude, who won Orienteering in Viêtnam, after 3 hours and 10 minutes. Bertrand completed the podium after 3 hours and 30 minutes. Coumba was once again eliminated at this stage, while Patrick, who came second in Palawan's Orienteering, was eliminated this time.
Malaisie used the same rules as La Revanche des Héros and was the first all-newcomers season to bring the Final Five in Orienteering. Philippe, after following Vanessa in her area in a strategic move, found the dagger before her, but quickly regretted his move and decided to give away his dagger to her, and wanted to find his own dagger "fair and square". Unfortunately for him, he couldn't find another dagger in time, eliminating him, alongside Bernard, who was way behind in the whole challenge.
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