My Journey to the Top of the World

My Journey to the Top of the World

And the life lessons I learnt along the way

Saray Khumalo


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In this truly remarkable life story, Saray Khumalo shares her epic journey to the top of the world: Mount Everest. From her childhood in Zambia and Zaire, to a corporate career in South Africa, through marriage and motherhood, Saray harboured one overriding ambition: to reach the summits of the world’s highest mountains. She first summited Mount Kilimanjaro, and then others, but her ultimate goal was to conquer the world’s highest mountain, Mount Everest. After three unsuccessful attempts, Saray became the first black African woman to summit the world’s highest peak. Her success was hard-won, though – along the way, she suffered severe personal setbacks, serious health issues and life-threatening injuries.

But her perseverance finally paid off, and Saray’s success has helped change the narrative around high-altitude mountaineering – who belongs on the mountains, and whose stories are told. In this fascinating memoir, she shares not only her incredible mountaineering story, but also the lessons she learnt about life, perseverance and falling forward.


Saray Khumalo:

Saray Khumalo was born in Zambia, of Rwandan heritage, lived in Zaire, and is now a South African citizen. She has summited four of the world's highest mountains and was the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest. Locally, she has climbed the highest peak in each of South Africa’s nine provinces. Saray is a mom of two, a busy executive and corporate leader in the finance space, a transformational coach and keynote speaker. She uses her passion for mountaineering to benefit causes close to her heart and is the founder of the NGO Summits with a Purpose, which raises funds to promote literacy and education and to build physical and digital libraries in disadvantaged schools. In her podcast ‘Because It’s There’, she talks to successful African and global leaders about their experiences and philosophies of leadership.