Travel to Guinea
Drumming, Music, Dance & Culture Intensive
3 Weeks of Immersion into the Culture of Sayon’s Native Guinea
January 15 - February 4, 2024
Traveling to Guinea will take your drumming, dancing and cultural understanding to the next level, whether you are a beginner or a professional. Your life will be transformed. With three weeks in Guinea, approximately two will be spent in the village of Kouya Sidia/ Kouroussa and approximately one in the capitol of Conakry for the first few and last few days. Your time will be spent studying and experiencing the drumming, music, song, dance, festivals and culture of Guinea. Immerse yourself in up to five hours* of lessons per day, up to five or six days/week* (depending on travel times) with top drummers, musicians and dancers in Guinea, most of them members of Sayon’s personal ensemble in Guinea which includes, drummers, dancers, singers, and musicians of other traditional instruments, including the famed fula flute. Private or group lessons with teachers of flute, balafon, kora, and others can be arranged for students as desired. In the capitol Conakry, and Sayon’s village of Kouya Sidia you will be guests of Sayon’s family. This is an opportunity to get a first hand experience of life in Guinea by living with his family. Sayon’s family is very sweet, welcoming and experienced at hosting workshop participants particularly when it comes to cooking fresh and delicious homemade food. Sayon Camara is a native of Guinea and lived there for most of his life. It is an honor to be with a top notch djembefola and his family in Guinea.
Our Conakry stay is based in the Simbaya Gare quarter of the capitol in Guinea. After a few to several days in the capitol we travel to Sayon’s home village of Kouya Sidia (via Faranah and Kissidougou) where we will be staying with his family for about two weeks. Finally we return to Simbaya in Conakry, a few days prior to departure, for a few more days of classes and to say goodbye to friends we have made.
Drumming, music and dance classes will be taught by Sayon and members of his ensemble in Guinea. There are approximately five hours* of classes per day, except on travel days, three hours in the morning for drumming* and two hours in the afternoon for drumming, dance or other instruments as the group desires*. One or two days a week will be open for to give people free time, even if that means taking more music or dance lessons!
You can plan on a shared room and access to an African style bathroom. Three meals will be provided daily. In Conakry, you have the option to eat breakfast at the cafe where all the local djembefola’s meet in the morning. Please let us know if you have dietary or other requirements. Bottled water is necessary and may be purchased at cafes and stores. The food in Guinea is traditional, primarily dishes based on rice and sauces with vegetables, beef, fish or chicken and sometimes beans.
$2200 (USD) for 3 weeks includes drum and dance classes (but not private lessons), room and board (three meals/day), airport pick up and drop off (if arriving and leaving on the appointed days) and ground travel to and from the village. Airfare, passports, visas, vaccinations, side trips, cab fare, eating at restaurants and cafes, drinking water, private lessons are not included in the cost of the workshop. Plan on bringing spending money for expenses that are not covered in the trip and for things you may want to buy, including drums.
Please let us know as soon as you know if you think you may be interested in this trip. There will be at least one meeting for those interested to help you prepare, ask questions and get information. A $800 deposit paid by October 1 will hold your place on the trip.
Plan to arrive the day before the workshop starts and leave the last day of the workshop or the day after the workshop ends (flights usually leave Conakry very late at night).
What to Bring
We will be happy to send you our Guinea packing list and to field your questions.
The weather in Guinea in December and January is very pleasant. In the city you can expect warm days with lots of sun and warm nights. In the village it can be quite cool in the evenings, nights and early morning. We suggest a cozy sweatshirt and if you like to be warm at night a light weight travel blanket that gives extra warmth.
We suggest learning some Malinke… and can direct you to a downloadable resource. French is helpful in the capitol. There will be people available who can help with translation.
Things to Do Before You Go
- Get a letter of invitation from Sayon for this trip.
- Make sure your passport is current.
- Get a visa to enter Guinea.
- Get the required Yellow Fever vaccination.
- Get anti-malarial medication. Required by Sayon Camara Drumming.
- Make sure you are in good health (including dental health) to travel to Guinea!
- Make an appointment at your local travel clinic to see what you may in the way of medical preparation to travel to Guinea.
- Get travel insurance including medical and trip.
- Follow all CDC, WHO, US State Department and Guinea guidelines about traveling to Guinea during the Covid-19 pandemic.
- Peruse and read anything and everything that pertains to Guinea on the CDC, WHO and US State Department websites. The State Department of the USA recommends registering with them to let them know you are traveling to Guinea and so do we!
If you think you may be interested in traveling to Guinea please contact us
*All itineraries, plans and information on this page subject to change with/without notice.