Around the Sahara: A Virtual Tour of North Africa

Amazing monuments, UNESCO World Heritage sites, sublime natural beauty. On our virtual tour, discover the pyramid fields of Sudan and Egypt; Morocco’s magnificent imperial capitals; and the incredibly well-preserved Carthaginian and Roman ruins of Tunisia. Each week we’ll explore North Africa’s immense diversity, and we’ll discuss the region’s geography, culture, history, religion, crafts and cuisine. Discover travel highlights, hear curious anecdotes and learn some of the secrets each place has to offer. You will gain a useful, deeper understanding of North Africa’s subtleties.

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


Location: Online
Format: Self-paced with weekly virtual class
Duration: 6 weeks
Tuition: $180
Can be applied to:
Liberal Arts for 55+ Certificate

Upcoming Offerings

Currently not available for registration.

Course outline

  • Week 1: Egypt
    Egypt is one of the oldest tourist destinations on Earth, ever since the ancient Greeks and Romans arrived to admire its magnificent monuments. We’ll explore the Christian and Islamic legacy in Cairo; see archaeological wonders of ancient Egypt; explore the Valley of the Nile; and discover whale fossils in the Western Desert of Egypt. We’ll visit the Orthodox monastery of Saint Catherine, at the foot of Mount Horeb where the Bible records Moses receiving the Tablets of the Law.
  • Week 2: Sudan
    We discover Khartoum, where two Niles become one; the labyrinthine souks of Omdurman; and the ecstatic dances of the Sufi dervishes. We travel the Nile in Nubia, exploring the ruins of the ancient Kingdom of Kush. We’ll see the pyramid fields of Meroe, Jebel Barkal, El-Kurru and Nuri, learning that Sudan has more pyramids than Egypt! We visit sites of the Nubian civilization of Kerma, which flourished from around 2,500–1,500 BCE, and ancient Christian sites around Old Dongola.
  • Week 3: Mali
    In Mali, once West Africa’s greatest merchant empire, we discover the capital Bamako and the ancient trading port of Djenne with its scenic market. We head to the Dogon country, a wilderness of rock, shrub and barren sands set in the Bandiagara Escarpment. We explore the shores of the Niger River in a pinasse boat to cruise from Mopti to Timbuktu. We explore winding alleys of Timbuktu, once a wealthy centre on the lucrative trans-Saharan caravan route.
  • Weeks 4 and 5: Morocco
    Morocco is a land of extreme contrasts: from commanding kasbahs and lush oases of the Draa Valley, to harsh landscapes of the Atlas Mountains and the Sahara. Discover stunning architecture, markets and medinas in the four imperial capitals of Fes, Meknes, Marrakesh and Rabat. We explore the colonial towns of Casablanca and Tangier, and vist the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Volubilis, the Ksar of Ait-Ben-Haddou, the Portuguese city of Mazagan (El Jadida), the Medina of Essaouira and the Medina of Tétouan.
  • Week 6: Tunisia
    In Tunisia we explore archaeological sites such as Carthage, Dougga and the Colosseum at El Djem. We visit Kairouan, one of Islam’s holiest cities, as well as El Ghibra, the oldest synagogue in Tunisia on the island of Djerba. We explore the fascinating souks in the ancient medinas of Tunis and Sousse, and various troglodyte villages in Tataouine, before experiencing the sand dunes and oases of the Northern Sahara.

What you will learn

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

  • Appreciate Northern Africa’s art and architecture, the legacy of ancient civilizations and a number of North African UNESCO World Heritage Sites
  • Identify different types of habitats around the Sahara and Sahel regions
  • Consider insights and practical information about travelling to these countries

How you will learn

  • Participation in Zoom seminars
  • Participation in discussions with other students
  • Reflective essay (applicable only to certificate students)

Learning Materials

No textbook is required. We will provide all course materials online.

Technical Requirements

For online courses, you will need a computer with audio and microphone that is connected to the internet. Canvas is the online system that will be used for the course. For more information and online support, visit Online Learning.

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

  • 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 Zoom Meetings

New to Zoom Meetings? A few days before the course starts, we’ll host a virtual drop-in time on Zoom so you can check your Zoom access and test your computer’s camera, microphone and speakers.