The Discovery Channel loves to push its reality stars to their limits.
First, there was Naked and Afraid, where participants were marooned without their clothes for 21 days. Then along came Naked and Afraid XL, where naked participants did 40 days of suffering in some of Earth’s harshest environments.
Enter Matt Wright.
The 33-year-old survivalist from Colorado has accomplished a lot on the long-running show. During his first adventure in Thailand, he proposed to his girlfriend, Brooke, while naked. They later got married.
From there, he went to Belize for a short Naked and Afraid adventure with PEOPLE’s Steve Helling. (Considering the whining Wright had to endure, it may have been his most difficult challenge to date.) Then he went to Ecuador, where he showed his wilderness skills by hunting a wild boar. He was later felled by a flesh-eating bacteria that could have cost him his life.
This season, Wright participated in Naked and Afraid: Savage, where he was marooned naked and alone in Africa. His task: to find other Naked and Afraid XL participants who were forming their own community together. (His other task was to keep from dying, but we digress.)
Wright tells PEOPLE that being alone really wore on his psyche. “Even having a bad partner is better than being by yourself,” he says. “You really need to have communication with people. Being alone was really difficult.” (Producers and cameramen do not interact with participants — and they leave them alone for extended periods of time with nothing but a handheld camera and a walkie-talkie for use during emergencies.)
“No matter how much suffering you go through, it’s better to do it with a partner,” Wright continues. “So I was definitely ready to find other people to talk with. I just wanted to have a conversation with someone.”
So is Wright used to being naked in the wilderness? “In a weird way, it feels like I’m putting on armor when I get naked,” he says. “I am really used to it by now. I’ve done it so much.”
Wright’s body has scars all over it from his Naked and Afraid adventures. “I have bug bites and scars and things that will never go away. I don’t have any tattoos, so I guess those scars are the only permanent reminders I have on my body.”
In the exclusive clip above, Wright finally finds some of the other Naked and Afraid XL participants. How will he assimilate to the group?
Naked and Afraid XL airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET on Discovery Channel.