From Khartoum to Lalibela: A Virtual Tour Through Lost Kingdoms of Africa

Discover amazing monuments, UNESCO World Heritage sites, and sublime natural beauty, including: the pyramid fields of Sudan; Ethiopia’s magnificent medieval churches; and the incredibly well-preserved futuristic architecture of Asmara, capital of Eritrea. We will view multi-image presentations that evoke Africa’s immense diversity, and we will discuss the region’s geography, culture, history, religion, crafts and cuisine. The instructor will share, from firsthand experience, sightseeing highlights, curious anecdotes and some secrets each place has to offer. Potential travellers to the region will gain a useful, deeper understanding of its subtleties.

A $50 discount will be applied automatically for adults 55+.

This course is available at the following time(s) and location(s):

Campus Session(s) Instructor(s) Cost Seats available  
Online - Peter Langer $170.00 0 Join Waitlist
Online - Peter Langer $170.00 0 Join Waitlist

Schedule clarification: This is a four-week online course. It runs from Monday, February 8 to Friday, March 5. Each week, all week, you can study that week’s material, post and respond to messages, and engage in course activities. Students enrolled in Section 1 will participate in live videoconferencing sessions each Tuesday from 10–11:30 a.m. PT; students enrolled in Section 2 will participate in live videoconferencing sessions each Tuesday from 12–1:30 p.m. PT.

Learning objectives

By the end of the course, you should be able to do the following:

  • Describe your visual impression of points of interest within the countries covered
  • Give examples of the intangible heritage and cultures of the countries covered
  • Describe several cities, UNESCO World Heritage sites and natural landscapes of these countries
  • Challenge stereotypes commonly held about these countries
  • Give examples of insights useful to travellers to these countries

Learning methods

Your online learning will include the following methods:

  • Participation in written discussions with other students
  • Participation in videoconference seminars
  • Suggested and optional further readings and references

For Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate students: you will write a reflective essay.


Week 1: Sudan

Although various conflicts mean part of Sudan remains off limits, the northeast is one of the safest places in the world. We will showcase Khartoum, the labyrinthine souks of Omdurman, the ecstatic dances of the Sufi dervishes, the ancient Kingdom of Kush, the pyramid fields of Meroe, Jebel Barkal, El-Kurru and Nuri, sites of the early Nubian civilization of Kerma, and ancient Christian sites around Old Dongola.

Week 2: Northern Ethiopia

Addis Ababa, the monasteries of Lake Tana, Tigray's remarkable rock-hewn churches, the giant obelisks in Axum, the medieval castles of Gondar, and the ancient rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopian Christmas celebrations held by the Ethiopian Orthodox church. The Blue Nile waterfalls, endemic wildlife such as Gelada baboons in the Simien Mountains and the Danakil Depression, featuring other-worldly geological landscapes that resulted from the divergence of three tectonic plates in the Horn of Africa.

Week 3: Southern Ethiopia

African and Middle Eastern influences in Harar Jugol, an old walled city in Eastern Ethiopia. The World Heritage sites of the Tiya Stelae Field and the Cultural Landscape of Konso. The elaborate Timkat celebrations. The southern Rift Valley and its lakes. The Omo Valley, home to a diverse and fascinating range of villages, and some of Africa’s most fascinating ethnic groups. Traditional Dorze, Mursi, Karo and Daasanach villages, the Hamer people performing a jumping of the bulls coming-of-age ceremony.

Week 4: Eritrea

Asmara, the capital of Eritrea, a UNESCO World Heritage city featuring modernist architecture created by Italian architects. The Monday camel market in Keren and a vintage train ride on the Eritrean Railway, constructed between 1887 and 1932. Massawa, a historical and important port for many centuries, located on the Red Sea.

Books, materials and resources

You will access reading material using SFU's online course management system, Canvas.

Technical requirements

This course is delivered using SFU's online learning system, Canvas. You can check if your browser is compatible with Canvas here.  

To get the most out of this online course, you should be comfortable doing the following:

  • Using everyday software such as browsers, email and social media
  • Navigating a website by clicking on links and finding pages in a menu
  • Downloading and opening PDF documents
  • Posting, replying and uploading images to a discussion board
  • Participating in videoconferencing sessions

You will be participating in videoconferencing using Zoom Meetings. For this, your computer needs to have a camera, microphone and speakers or headphones. Your computer software should be up to date with the latest available operating system and browser versions.

Accessing your course

  • A few days before the course starts, we will email you more information about the course and how you'll access it. You will also receive an email inviting you to access the Canvas learning platform (click on the link in the invitation to join the course). Once you’ve accessed Canvas, you can begin exploring the platform on your own. The full course will be accessible on its start date.
  • We’ll also host a virtual drop-in time on Zoom Meetings a few days before the course starts. This will give you a chance to check that you can access Zoom Meetings, and that your computer’s camera and microphone and speakers are working properly.

If you're 55+, you may take this course as part of

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