The brand-new season of Survivor South Africa premieres this week and ahead of the show’s highly-anticipated premiere, we’ve got an inside look at the castaways heading out to the islands of Samoa for this once-in-a-lifetime experience. This time, the show’s producers are switching things up by having three tribes from the get-go.

In Samoan, the word Ta’alo has two meanings – “seahorse” or “to play”. Symbolically, the seahorse is the good luck charm of the aquatic world, but this little creature can also be full of surprises. Ta’alo’s tribal colour in Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets is purple, but what type of game will Ta’alo’s seven tribe members play?

The seven castaways in the Ta’alo tribe are:

Cobus Hugo
Age: 28
Occupation: Architect
From: Greenpoint, Cape Town
What you need to know about him:
Cobus is a lively, happy-go-lucky and proudly gay young man who lives on the light side of life, but admits that there’s sometimes a bit of sarcasm behind his million-dollar smile. It always comes from a good place, though. This social butterfly channels his boundless energy into running marathons or working really hard to get what he wants. His biggest fear going onto Survivor SA is that he will be part of a boring tribe, but as his circle of friends know, Cobus will quickly be able to change the mood for the better in any group. Having a down day will indeed be a new experience for this loving and caring architect. And who would not want someone who can construct a proper shelter for his or her tribe?

Danté De Villiers
Age: 31
Occupation: Coffee shop owner
From: Dwarskersbos, Cape West Coast
What you need to know about him:
With his long flowing hair, muscled body and love for the ocean, Danté is Survivor SA’s dreamy Aquaman! His passion for the outdoors has taken this soft-spoken athletic loner to many places across the world. After living in Thailand and spending the last seven years in the South of Israel next to the Red Sea, Danté has returned to South Africa to run a coffee shop – in a small coastal town of course! Danté certainly doesn’t conform to the norm. “I do my own thing, on my own terms,” he says of himself. “There are too many followers in this world.” Case in point: Even though he sees himself as a “real surfer”, decent hygiene is very high on his priority list.

Felix Godlo
Age: 29
Occupation: Sales consultant
From: Garstfontein, Pretoria
What you need to know about him:
Felix is another Survivor contestant known for going against the flow. Felix comes from a traditional Xhosa family, but attended an Afrikaans High School in Pretoria where he then got a rugby scholarship to Jeppe High School for Boys. Today, he is married to his Afrikaans high school sweetheart from Pretoria and in October 2018 they welcomed a baby boy. Felix is not only a good husband and father, but also a natural leader and talented sportsman who loves to make his dad, a military man, proud. While studying at the University of Technology in Pretoria, he played rugby for The Vikings and later he represented Old Selbournians in East London. Solid and in-control, Felix sees Survivor SA as the ultimate social experiment and is over the moon to be part of it.

Jacques Burger
Age: 27
Occupation: Industrial Engineeer
From: Queenswood, Pretoria
What you need to know about him:
Jacques is a Survivor super-fan. He has watched every single season – sometimes more than once – and even dedicated a podcast to Survivor SA: Philippines in 2018. This real brainiac, who is for obvious reasons always stereotyped as the nerd in a group, is adamant that he wants to be known as one of the greatest players in the history of the TV franchise. “I may look like I am on a hunger strike,” the scrawny married industrial engineer says, “but I can hold my own in challenges.” His nickname “Die Lem” was apparently earned during his early rugby-playing days. On paper, Jacques is a meticulous strategist whose social game is on point. But will he live up to his own expectations when Survivor doesn’t play out on paper?

Meryl Szolkeiwicz
Age: 31
Occupation: Pilates instructor
From: Irene, Pretoria
What you need to know about her:
A creative soul with a degree in musical theatre, this pilates instructor with big hair and even bigger ambition always wants to perform at her best and won’t let anything get her down. After starting a career as a musician, Meryl married quite young and had three beautiful boys within four years. For this yummy mommy, Survivor SA is an opportunity to rediscover her adventurous side. Raising three kids made her fierce and strong, compassionate and loyal, but in Survivor you may just see a little more of her flirtatious side. It is a game, after all!

Tania Copeland
Age: 51
Occupation: Immigration consultant
From: Somerset West, Cape Town
What you need to know about her:
The rules and restrictions of society were not made with Tania in mind. Or, actually, they were. It’s just that this strong and independent woman is not going to pay much attention to them. Tania is one of a kind, unlike anyone else who has played the game of Survivor. She may be slightly older than her competitors, but it won’t hold her back. This colourful 51-year-old immigration consultant is a self-proclaimed hedonist and an avid rock climber who loves all kinds of adventures in the outdoors. Tania, who has raised several kids, teaches English language to adults and knows that she’s always the heart and soul of a party – with or without her no-longer-guilty pleasure – a marijuana joint. In Survivor SA she wants to be part of what she calls Team Underdog – who shows the big dogs how it’s done. (Oh, by the way, her father was a bank robber).

Ting-Ting Wong
Age: 25
Occupation: Doctor
From: Durban
What you need to know about her:
Ask Ting-Ting to describe herself and she will tell you that she’s a doctor by profession, a healer and “empowerer” by wish and a poet and YouTuber by choice. She is indeed a memorable millennial with a love for strange and beautiful things and an interesting background. She grew up in a traditional Taiwanese household with South African influences, studied at the University of Stellenbosch and considers herself an “African Asian” who is now completing her medical internship and wants to specialise in reconstructive plastic surgery. Likeable and mischievous, but also practical and extremely wise, Ting-Ting brings an interesting dynamic – and plenty of soul and insight to every situation.

Survivor South Africa: Island of Secrets begins on M-Net from Thursday 16 May at 19:00.

See the castaways on the Survivor South Africa’s Laumei tribe here.
See the castaways on the Survivor South Africa’s Sa’ula tribe here.

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