BOOK REVIEW | My Journey to the Top of the World


And the life lessons I learnt along the way

By Saray Khumalo

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 summit 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 at high altitude has helped change the narrative about who belongs on the mountains and whose stories are told.

Saray’s story, which redefines common perceptions about what women are capable of doing and achieving, will inspire girls and women from all walks of life. In this fascinating memoir, she shares not only her incredible mountaineering feats, but also the lessons she learnt about life, perseverance and failing forward.

This forms the nub of a dilemma that every Everest climber eventually comes up against: in order to succeed you must be exceedingly driven, but if you’re too driven you’re likely to die.

– Jon Krakauer

About the author

Saray Khumalo is an award-winning South African mountaineer and the first black African woman to summit Mount Everest and ski to the South Pole. She was born in Zambia, is of Rwandan heritage, and has lived in Eastern, Central and Southern Africa.

Saray’s accomplishments include being a mother to two boys, holding a Guinness World Record, and, at the time of writing this book, working as an executive and corporate leader in the financial services sector. As a leadership and transformation coach, she focuses on women executives and entrepreneurs.

Saray is also a global keynote speaker and founder of the NPC Summits With a Purpose, which uses mountaineering to raise funds to promote literacy and education by building physical and digital libraries in disadvantaged schools. She believes that education is the great equaliser, capable of changing the narrative for the next generation. In her podcast ‘Because It’s There’, she talks to successful African and global leaders about their experiences and philosophies on leadership.

  • PUBLISHER | Penguin Random House SA |
  • ISBN | 9781776095988 |
  • Recommended Retail Price | R290.00 |
  • Classification | Adventure |


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