Ed Stafford made his name when he became the first person to walk the entire length of the Amazon in 2010. That ordeal took him 860 days. For his new series on the Discovery Channel, the adventurer plans to spend 10 days at a time alone in remote parts of the world, from the jungles of Borneo to the Gran Sabana mountains of Venezuela. On his trips, he'll have nothing but a video camera – no food, no clothing, or tools. – and little company aside from the jaguars, brown bears, and hippos he'll confront.
But he's less afraid of animals than some of the more basic needs: "If you're going to die after the ad break, it will be from extreme cold, heat, and lack of food," Stafford, who previously starred in Naked Castaway, explains. The fact that he begins with nothing to wear just makes the experience all the more grueling. At the very least, the cuts on his feet and the grass skirts he's forced to fashion make for great television. "You can see that everything is done from scratch," he says. "I didn't want to be naked if it was just a stunt. I agreed to it for the purity of the concept."
With Stafford foraging for food, surveying the land for prospects, and pitching camp with no man-made materials, each episode of Marooned is a bit like a scouting seminar. In fact, Stafford now serves as a scouting ambassador in the U.K. "The waiting list is massive," he says. "The only thing holding it back is a lack of adult volunteers."
As well-trained as he is – he's a former British Army captain – he remains a novice when it comes to camera work. He's learning to vary the footage he shoots – wide shots, tight shots – to bring back video that can be edited into an appealing program. But the fact that he's never had a day of camera training adds to the show's authenticity. "The fact that it's slightly Blair Witch, with the shaky camera, works. People are very cynical these days. If it was too well shot, they'd say, 'Nah, there's a camera crew there.'"
Despite the hardship, Stafford, now 38, claims that the show is actually an indulgence.
"At the end of the day, I'm doing something that's inherently slightly selfish," he says. "I don't pretend to be doing it for purely unselfish reasons. I love my adventures. I like throwing myself into stuff."
More information: Marooned airs Wednesday at 10 PM EST on the Discovery Channel.