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    United Methodists of Upper New YorkLiving the Gospel. Being God's Love.


    Africa University

    Click here to register for this once in a lifetime trip and click here to access he payment form. Click here for more information.

    The Upper New York Conference pilgrimage to Africa University is your opportunity to see and experience a ministry born of the radical generosity and faithfulness of United Methodists and others. Affectionately known as “the school of dreams in the valley of hope,” Africa University has been described as the most exciting ministry of The United Methodist Church in this century.

    The trip is planned for February 12-21, 2025 and is led by Upper New York Area Resident, Bishop Héctor A. Burgos Núñez and by Dr. Roger Ellis and Mrs. Claudia Ellis. 

    Fly from Washington, DC to southern Africa where you will visit Africa University’s main campus, interact with the students, faculty, administrators, and local church leaders, and learn more about the vitality of the church on the African continent. The trip includes a two-day safari to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe and Chobe, Botswana for unparalleled game viewing in the Zambezi River Valley. There is also the opportunity to expand your trip for an additional cost and depart from Johannesburg, South Africa with tours of Soweto’s Mandela House Museum and the Apartheid Museum.

    The estimated cost for the basic 10-day trip is $5000. The extended trip is estimated to cost $6500.

    Click here to view the flyer and click here to learn more and give to the Africa University Endowed Scholarships #300, an Upper New York Conference Advanced Special.  

    If you have additional questions about the trip, contact Andra Stevens, Africa University Development Office, telephone: 615-340-7438; or email: Visit and for more information about Africa University.

    Watch a video message from Bishop Marcus Matthews about the importance of supporting Africa University. 



    10-day Itinerary | Gateway Airport: Chicago-O’Hare (ORD) or Washington-Dulles (IAD)
    (Tentative flight itinerary using United Airlines and Ethiopian Airlines)

    Wednesday, Feb. 12: Leave home city for travel to Harare, Zimbabwe via Chicago, IL or Washington, DC and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.
    (Next day arrival at Harare International Airport: Typically, travelers connect on ET501, departing IAD for ADD at 11:00am, arrives at Bole International/Addis Ababa at 7:15am on Sept. 28th. Layover of 2 hours, 10 minutes, before boarding ET 863 which departs for Harare at 9:25am. This flight has a passenger pick up/drop off stop but no change of airplane in Lusaka, Zambia of about one hour, before proceeding to Harare. Arrival at Harare International Airport in Zimbabwe is scheduled for 2:35pm.)

    Thursday, Feb. 13: Arrival at Harare International Airport (Zimbabwe). Late afternoon, meet & greet, transfer to Harare hotel for check in, dinner and overnight stay at the Cresta Lodge Harare.

    Friday, Feb. 14: Transfer by road from Harare to Mutare: You will be picked up at your hotel after breakfast (around 9:00 a.m.) by a driver and vehicle for transfer by road (3.5-hour trip duration) to Mutare, where Africa University is located. On arrival at the campus, you will check into the Ubuntu Retreat Center and have lunch. Following lunch, the group will have a brief orientation to the campus. The rest of the afternoon is free for members to rest/get acclimated. Dinner/overnight at Ubuntu Center.

    Saturday, Feb. 15: At the AU main campus: Breakfast at the Ubuntu Center. Tour the main campus, including the AU Farm, from 8:00 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. Proceed to the Old Mutare UMC Mission—a 120-year-old mission center that is home to a hospital, dental clinic, primary and secondary schools, and children’s home. Visit with Hospital staff as well as youngsters at the children’s home. Return to the Ubuntu Center around 1:30 p.m. for lunch. Following lunch, group will proceed to the Mutare city center and Sakubva township for a briefing on the area’s history/development, community concerns and ministry at the local church level. Dinner/overnight at Ubuntu Center.

    Sunday, Feb. 16: At the AU main campus/in Mutare area: The group will breakfast at the Ubuntu Retreat Center, before proceeding to a Sunday worship service with a local congregation. (Opportunity to preach for the clergy members of the delegation, if interested.) After church, enjoy lunch/fellowship with church leaders. Return to the campus around mid-afternoon. Missional Impact Celebration/Fellowship Dinner with AU leaders and the students currently receiving scholarship support from Upper New York Conference churches and individuals. Overnight at the Ubuntu Center.

    Monday, Feb. 17:  At Africa University campus/ travel from campus back to Harare: Spend the morning auditing lectures in the various colleges (Office of Advancement and Public Affairs (OAPA) will select and assign visitors to various lectures based on specified areas of interest). Debrief over lunch at the Ubuntu Retreat Center with the Vice Chancellor, senior administrators, and faculty deans.

    Check out of the Ubuntu Center by 2:30 p.m., depart from the campus/Mutare area  and travel to Harare by road. Dinner and overnight stay at the Cresta Lodge Harare.

    Tuesday, Feb. 18: Travel from Harare to Victoria Falls / In Victoria Falls

    Group will breakfast at the hotel, then proceed to the Harare International Airport for domestic flight to Victoria Falls. On arrival at Victoria Falls International Airport, the group will be met by Batoka Safaris staff and transferred from the airport to the hotel. After a brief period for check in and freshening up/changing into more comfy clothing, the group is scheduled for a walking tour of the majestic Victoria Falls—a UNESCO World Heritage site. That evening, guests will enjoy a leisurely sunset cruise on the Zambezi River.  A two-night stay at the A’Zambezi River Lodge in Victoria Falls begins. Dinner and overnight at the A’Zambezi River Lodge.

    Wednesday, Feb. 19:  Game viewing in the Chobe National Park, Botswana: Venture across the border into Kasane, Botswana to the Chobe National Park for a full day safari, offering unparalleled game viewing on and along the banks of the Chobe River. Lunch at the Chobe Safari Lodge. Return to Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe at 4:00 p.m. That evening, enjoy dinner at the Boma restaurant, featuring exotic meats and a lively, interactive demonstration of African drumming. Overnight at the A’Zambezi River Lodge.

    Thursday, Feb. 20: Travel from Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe to USA via Ethiopia. Rise before sun up and head into the Stanley and Livingstone Game Reserve for an early morning game drive, followed by a scrumptious bush breakfast cooked in the open air over wood fires. Return to the hotel at 10:30am, check out and proceed to the Victoria Falls International Airport. Check in and fly from Victoria Falls to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, with connecting flight from Addis Ababa to Washington Dulles, USA.

    Friday, Feb. 21: Arrival in Chicago, IL or Washington, DC in the morning, with onward travel to home city.

    12-day Itinerary | Gateway Airport: Chicago-O’Hare (ORD)  or Washington-Dulles (IAD)
    Two-day add on – to include Johannesburg, South Africa

    Thursday, Feb. 20: (Instead of boarding a flight direct from Victoria Falls to Addis Ababa, Ethiopia): Check in and fly from Victoria Falls to Johannesburg, South Africa. Airport meet and greet, transfer to Protea Hotel – O. R. Tambo International Airport. Dinner and overnight stay at Protea Hotel Johannesburg Airport 

    Friday, Feb. 21: In Johannesburg, you will explore the turbulent history of Africa’s “rainbow nation” at the Apartheid Museum. Visit the Southwest Township, otherwise known as Soweto—a community that features prominently in the struggle against Apartheid—and walk along Vilikazi Street, once home to two Nobel Peace Prize laureates!  

    Breakfast at hotel. (9:00am): Leave hotel for Day Tour of Johannesburg—includes Sandton area and  Soweto:  Nelson Mandela House, Tutu House, and the Apartheid Museum (Full day tour), with lunch in Soweto. Return and drop off for second night’s stay at the Protea Hotel Johannesburg Airport.

    Saturday, Feb. 22: Travel back to USA on Ethiopian Airlines via Addis Ababa. Breakfast at hotel. Free morning with late check out, pack and preparation for departure from Johannesburg. (12:00 Noon) Transfer from the hotel to the international departure terminal at O. R. Tambo. Check in and leave Johannesburg on ET 808, departing Johannesburg at 2:25 p.m. for Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Arrival in Addis at 8:40 p.m. Layover in Addis Ababa of two hours, before the departure of ET 500 at 10:40 p.m. bound for Washington, DC (IAD).

    Sunday, Feb. 23: Arrival in Chicago, IL or Washington, DC in the morning, with onward travel to home city.

    Please note the following: Overall trip cost WITH THE JOHANNESBURG EXTENSION INCLUDED is $6,500, with flexible economy class airline tickets for all flights in the itinerary. Business class airline tickets can be purchased for interested travelers who request them. Pricing for business class will be provided upon request but expect Ethiopian Airlines Cloud Deluxe seats to cost around $8K per person. Included in the itinerary and pricing are a one-way ticket cost from Harare to Vic Falls and a one-way ticket cost from Vic Falls to Johannesburg.

    Regardless of the option selected,  the estimated trip cost includes:

    • All tours and safari activities.
    • Travel insurance cover (emergency medical, trip interruption/cancellation, and repatriation).
    • 4-star accommodations. Housing is booked double occupancy, bed and breakfast, unless uneven numbers make a single room necessary. (N.B. Single supplement fee applies for persons who specifically request single occupancy rooms.)
    • Ground transportation in air-conditioned buses.
    • All the lunches and dinners that are specifically referenced in the itinerary. Meals include bottled water, juice, soft drinks and/or coffee/tea.
    • Special dietary and mobility issues are addressed as appropriate.


    • Visitor’s visa/entry fees for Zimbabwe ($45 double entry visitor’s visa required). Paid on arrival, direct to Immigration/Customs officers on issue of entry visa.
    • Personal services or items such as laundry, telephone calls, alcoholic drinks.
    • Gratuities/tips for tour guides, drivers and hotel staff in Harare, Victoria Falls and Johannesburg.

    With more than 100,000 members, United Methodists of Upper New York comprises of more than 675 local churches and New Faith Communities in 12 districts, covering 48,000 square miles in 49 of the 62 counties in New York state. Our vision is to “live the Gospel of Jesus Christ and to be God’s love with our neighbors in all places."