As you may know, we are currently in Essaouira for 1 month. The owner of our apartment in Essaouira advised us to visit the souk of Had Draa which takes place every Sunday and is located about 20 kilometers from Essaouira.
It is an authentic Berber market, far from the tourist attraction of the medina. Our owner advises us to go there in the morning because the cattle market ends quite early.
Anh prefers to sleep in, so I’m going alone.
The owner told us that collective cabs leave from the station to get there.
So I leave at 8 am and go to the CTM bus station which is 5 minutes away on foot. The place of the station is strangely deserted, I find someone to inform me: cabs do not leave from the CTM station but from the bus station. Fail!
I quickly find a cab to get there (7 dh, fixed price for all trips inside Essaouira). I explain to him where I am going, he then asks me if I want to take a collective cab (10 dh) or a minibus (6 or 7 dh).
He advises me to take a cab. Arrived at the station, he finds me himself a collective cab which leaves immediately.
It is a classic cab, a 5-seater car but which will take 4 passengers in the back and two passengers on the front passenger seat 😀
So I’m sharing the front seat with someone else. It’s tight but fortunately the road is very good and it takes us 30 minutes to get there. I was worried about not having confirmed the price with the driver but no bad surprise, it’s 10 dh.
Arrived in Had Draa, the area is in full boiling. On an empty stomach, I buy myself a good piece of warm bread for 1 dh. The souk is organized in “thematic section” and I immediately start looking for the cattle market. I find it quite quickly but I leave you the precise point on Google Map because it’s not that obvious : https://goo.gl/maps/5pvvXBXgmTt
The livestock market is located in a large square where there are several areas: camels, horses, cows, donkeys, sheep and goats
Even though I obviously don’t understand anything, I feel that the negotiations are difficult and some raise their voices. It hurts my heart a little to see the animals hobbled so that they don’t run away. Donkeys have both front legs tied. Sheep are even grouped together and tied by the head …
Once a sale is concluded, some use the animal as a means of locomotion to leave. Others will somehow get them into a vehicle.
After spending some time in this area, I go back up and go through the butcher’s area. I don’t linger too long because you have to have a strong stomach, at the beginning of the morning it’s a little bit difficult. I pay attention where I put my feet to pass above the rivers of blood…
Rest tents are available for tea and grilled food. Normally I would like to do that, but not now 😀
Then I wander around in the souk. You should not hesitate to get lost a little bit and spend some time on the spot, it’s really authentic and I would only meet a handful of tourists during my 2 hours on the spot.
I will go through the fruit and vegetable area in succession.
A little further on, I am intrigued by small tents lined up: they are hairdressers/barbers! I hesitate a bit at the idea of getting a shave because it’s a local experience that I like to do but the prospect of having irritated skin without being able to rinse off discourages me.
In yet another area, there are vendors offering everyday products, equipment for fishermen or boilermakers working with metals.
From 10:30 am it starts to be very crowded and it’s less pleasant to wander around, so I advise you to come as soon as possible.
As I head towards the cab zone with the intention of going home, I am approached by a local who says hello and welcomes me. I put myself in “alert mode” because I sense that he is too nice to be disinterested.
He asks me if I have seen the camels, yes. If I saw the barbers, yes. The boilermakers, yes. So I’ve seen the main one 🙂
I explain to him that I will take a collective cab to return to Essaouira. He then tells me about a bus that costs 5 dh and takes me there (it is indeed a real big bus and not a mini-bus). When I leave him, he asks me “Do you have 2 or 3 dh to take a tea? If you don’t, that’s okay”. Ahaha, I knew it was not disinterested!
As he taught me something (the bus), I offer him his tea willingly.
The bus is clearly a good plan, cheaper and much more comfortable than the collective cab where we are squeezed like sardines. My neighbor even offered me a clementine 🙂 Enter the bus without a ticket, someone will come and sell you a ticket.
Arrived in Essaouira, I take advantage of a stop requested by someone to get off right next to our Airbnb, I wouldn’t even have to take a cab from the bus station to go home.
I really recommend you this authentic and very exotic visit, I am delighted with this discovery 🙂 There are really very very few tourists, so you won’t go unnoticed at all but I had no problem, people will notice you without asking you, it’s really a souk for the locals. Note that there are very few women, I recommend you to cover yourself if you want to avoid being stared at.
Cab to get to Essaouira bus station: 7dh (ask your driver to find you the collective cab and leave him a small tip).
Collective cab to go to Had Draa souk: 10 dh (possible to take a mini-bus for 6 or 7dh or a bus for 5 dh but I didn’t see them).
Bus to return: 5 dh.