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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.
- Explore the sacred Gnawa traditions and sites with a local musician guide
- Meet a local kuyu (Gnawa dancer) for a dance presentation and display of their traditional garments
- Learn the history and craft of the ornate lute-like guembri instrument
- Join a Gnawa maalem (master) in his private quarters to hear him play the traditional Gnawa melodies
- Enjoy a glass of Moroccan wine to the sounds of Gnawa fusion at a local music hotspot
Tour style:Local Life/Culture, Heritage & History
Local English-speaking guide, glass of local wine, Gnawa performances.
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:
Near Moulay Hassan Square (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
Kick off your Essaouira tour under the iconic clocktower to begin a journey back in time and tradition. Weave through the medina to visit azaouia, 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.
Follow a kuyu, or Gnawa dancer, to his private home for some tea and a demonstration 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.
Our Essaouira tour continues the private quarters of a maalem, or Master, to learn about the making of the guembri. This lute-like instrument is the base of all Gnawa music and you’ll get to learn how it’s made and hear it played. Rarely do outsiders get invited into these personal spaces, generally reserved for Gnawi, musicians and their friends. Despite often having no formal training, the maalem, the leader of anyGnawa troupe, is highly studied in the rhythm, emotion, and sound of the guembri and its songs. They grow up in families and circles ofmusicians or healers, learning the calls and chants from an early age. Maalem are highly respected in Essaouira and have much traditional knowledge to share.
Finish the evening as the locals do in Essaouira - chilling with a libation at a local music spot, grooving to modern music that fuses Gnawawith Jazz, Latin, and Pop. Your local guide can recommend where to have dinner or carry on the night, if you’re so inclined!
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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.