Saray Khumalo is a South African explorer, mountaineer, a Guinness Book of Records holder, motivational speaker and executive coach. On the 16th of May 2019, she became the first black African woman to reach the summit of Mount Everest.
She is also the first African woman to ski and complete the last degree to the South Pole in December 2019. She is an ambassador for the Scouts UK, Malaria No More UK and iSchoolAfrica.
Saray Khumalo works as an e-commerce, Loyalty and Rewards business executive. She is a mother of two boys and a philanthropist with a focus on education.
With a Rwandan bloodline but now resident in South Africa, Saray Nyirankusi (N’kusi) Khumalo was born on the 16th of October 1971 in Lusaka, Zambia, as the second oldest of 7 sisters to a single mother.
She started her life in Zaire, now called The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), living with her grandparents, older sister, aunties and uncles. As the youngest in the home, she mainly played alone outside on a bicycle or on a hill behind their home. This was her introduction to the outdoors.
In 1984, she moved to Lusaka where she joined the Pathfinders club which is a youth group that taught her discipline and outdoor survival skills among other things through both theory and practical sessions. Her love for the outdoors grew from there.
Prior to her 2019 success, she had attempted three times to conquer Mount Everest. Her first attempt was in 2014, where she was halted after an avalanche that killed 16 guides on the slope. She tried again in 2015, but was halted again by an earthquake in Nepal. Her final try, before her success, was in 2017 where she was forced to turn back because of the terrible weather.
She has summited four of the seven summits including Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Aconcagua in Argentina, Mount Elbrus in Russia and Everest in Asia
Saray Khumalo is an iSchoolAfrica ambassador and Nelson Mandela Libraries ambassador, she is the founder of Summits With A Purpose, an initiative that has raised funds and built physical and digital libraries in disadvantaged African schools. Khumalo believes that literacy and education have the power to change the narrative for the next generation.
She is also a "Scouts ambassador" and "Malaria No More ambassador".
She has also supported several other projects including the Lunch Box Fund and Kids Haven in Benoni, Johannesburg.
Her business excellence and indefatigable mountaineering spirit have been widely recognized and she has received accolades that include:
- Charlotte Maxeke Women awards of First in the Sports category, 2020
- Woman of Stature Award (in the Sports category), 2020
- GSports Woman of the Year, 2019
- Ministerial Recognition Award from the Minister of Sports and Recreation, 2018
- MM1 Lesedi Award, 2017
- Klipdrift Golden Endurance Award, 2014
- "Standing tall: First black African woman scales Everest". The Japan Times Online. 2019-05-17. ISSN 0447-5763. Retrieved 2019-10-27.