- duration 3 hours
- tour type Group
- guiding method Live Guide/Instructor
- 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 lutelike guembri instrument
- Join a Gnawa maalem (master) in his private quarters to hear him play the traditional Gnawa melodies
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.
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 any Gnawa troupe, is highly studied in the rhythm, emotion, and sound of the guembri and its songs. They grow up in families and circles of musicians 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 hip locals do in Essaouira — chilling at a local music spot, grooving to soulful music that fuses Gnawa with Jazz, Latin, Reggae, and more. Your local guide can recommend where to have dinner or carry on the night, if you’re so inclined!
- Local English-speaking guide
- Gnawa demonstrations/performances.
- Personal shopping
- tips / gratuities.
- Real-time prices and availability.
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- No credit card or booking fees.
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Cancellation for this Gnawa Music Experience tour is free up to 48 hours before the chosen start date - full refund will be given. If cancellation is made less than 48 hours before the chosen start date, no refund applies.Payment
Full payment of 76 USD is required to confirm this tour.Travel Insurance
Gnawa Music Experience tour requires that you have adequate and valid travel insurance covering medical and personal accidents, including repatriation costs and emergency evacuation. We recommend using World Nomads' travel insurance.Visa
For this Gnawa Music Experience tour getting the required visa(s) is the responsibility for each individual traveller, as visa requirements vary depending on your nationality. We recommend to check with your local embassies representing the countries that you are travelling to, as part of this itinerary.Meeting start point :
Inside Bab Sbaa, below the clock tower (L’Moganna)Meeting end point :
Near Moulay Hassan Square (in the Medina)COVID-19 Safety Measures
This trip incorporates the following COVID-19 measures:
- This tour follows established guidelines that are in line with the World Travel and Tourism Council’s ‘Safe Travels’ framework against COVID-19.
- This tour follows the local government(s) recommendations for gatherings and group sizes.
- Wearing a mask, hand washing and sanitizing is highly encouraged on this tour. Frequently touched surfaces are regularly disinfected.