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Gnawa Music ExperienceGeneral Info | Photo Gallery | Traveller Feedback
Step inside the sacred and traditional world of the Gnawa, an Afro-Moroccan group whose music and culture are the heartbeat of Essaouira. Meet with Gnawa masters and experience their addictive music in hidden domains inaccessible to Essaouira outsiders.
- Discover the spots with the best local music
- Learn the history and customs of Gnawa, a local population with a rich history and strong ties to the region
- Explore the sacred Gnawa traditions and sites
- Meet the local kuyu (Gnawa dancers) and marvel at their ornate traditional garments
- Learn the history and craft of the ornate guembri instrument
- Groove to the trance rhythms and music of a Gnawa master
Tour style:Local Life/Culture, Heritage & History
Local English speaking guide, Gnawa performance.
Personal shopping, tips / gratuities.
Group size:Maximum 12
- Duration:2.5 - 3 hours
- Meeting point:
Inside Bab Sbaa, below the clock tower (L’Moganna)
- Starting time: 5.30 PM
- Ending point:
In the Medina
Additional information :
- Voucher exchange details:
Please present your voucher to the local guide at the beginning of the tour.
- Confirmation of booking:
If you have your voucher, your booking is confirmed. We'll see you at the start point.
Get in touch if you have any concerns or require more information via the email address or phone number (business hours only) on your voucher.
- Additional information:
We believe in Responsible Travel. A reusable bag is recommended to carry any purchases and reduce plastic bag waste.
- Dress standard:
As we will be entering sacred and private spaces, please be considerate of local tradition and wear appropriate clothing. We recommend covering the shoulders to the knees for both men and women. As we will walk over some uneven terrain, comfortable walking shoes are recommended. Evenings can be cold so a warm layer is advisable. An umbrella, rain jacket and close toed shoes may be necessary in January and February.
- Child policy:
This is a child-friendly tour. Children between the ages of 6 and 11 inclusively are permitted on this tour. Children younger than 6 are permitted at no extra cost, but please make sure you inform our guides of this before you take the tour.
- Language: English
Meet under Essaouira’s iconic clocktowerfor a journey back in time and tradition. The Gnawa population has been in this region for ages, and their traditional music is off-the-charts popular in Morocco. Want to feel like a true local? This is a good place to start.
Kick off your Essaouira tour by heading straight to a medina music shop –a gathering places for local musicians - for an introduction to the local music scene. It’s not uncommon to find a group of friends jamming in these tiny spaces, playing percussion, krakeb (metal castanets), and other instruments pulled from right off the wall. Music is a part of life here (and what better way to draw in customers?!)
From here, a Gnawa dancer or kuyu will lead welcome you into his home for a captivating performance of the sometimes acrobatic Gnawa dance moves, accompanied by an explanation of their typical clothing. Often made at home, these intricate designs are unique to the Gnawa performers and include bold colours, embroidery, and cowrie shells.
Then it’s off to meet the maalem or Master, who is the leader of any Gnawa troupe, and highly studied in the rhythm, emotion, and sound of the lute-like guembri and its songs. These maalem often have no formal training, but grow up in families and circles of musicians or healers, learning the calls and chants from an early age. See how the guembri is made and hear how it’s played in the private quarters of the Master.
Afterward, our Essaouira music tour continues on to the zaouia, or temple of the Gnawa people, a sacred place reserved for traditional lila rituals, often performed to treat psychological ills, drive out evil spirits, or remedy scorpion stings. These lilas still take place and usually last all night long and into the wee hours of the morning.
In true local style, you’ll finish the evening like everyone does in Essaouira: chilling with a libation at a local music spot. This wonderful end to the tour brings you full circle from Gnawa’s past to present.
Recently, Gnawa music has been fused with Western and Latin music, making new sounds perfect for dancing, so if you’re so inclined, your guide can recommend where to carry on the night.
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For your Urban Adventure you will be in a small group of a maximum of 12 people
If you are happy with the services provided by your local guide and driver, a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it is of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid Urban Adventures destinations. Please consider this when budgeting for your extra expenses on this tour
- Cancellations made more than 2 days prior to travel receive a full refund
- Cancellations made 2 days or less prior to travel attract a 100% cancellation fee.
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Wherever we go in the world, we take a responsible attitude with us. That means travelling in a way which both respects and benefits local people, their culture, their economy, and their environment. Please read on for more information on our Responsible Travel policy and how you can be a responsible traveller for your entire journey.