First Black African woman to reach the South Pole and summit Everest, motivational speaker, award-winning mountaineer, Mandela libraries ambassador, entrepreneur and business executive.

Saray is a South African, born in Zambian and of Rwandan decent. She is an award-winning mountaineer and a business executive with over 15 years’ experience in leading South African blue-chip companies, which have been driving innovation and continue to change the financial and wellness industries globally.

She is an advocate for human development and education and supports a wide variety of charitable and developmental organisations. Through mountaineering, she has raised over R1.5 million towards literacy and education in Africa.

Summits With A Purpose

Founded by Saray in 2013 and supported by Sarieta Schultz from 2014, the aim was to take Ubuntu to the top of the world through her 7 summits challenge, while making a difference in her community through education. The dream continues to be, ‘Go higher, go further for as long as God allows and let’s leave the world a better place….keep stepping!’ All this, in the hope to pave a way and change the narrative for the next generation through education. 

In 2018 Saray and Jeannette McGill (a respected mountain & business leader and the first South African woman to summit another of the 14x 8000 m mountains: Manaslu) initiated a collaboration with a view to make hiking, climbing and adventure a generally accessible activity for ordinary South Africans.

Summits with a Purpose is also a platform available to any African mountaineer wishing to climb, collaborate and make a difference in their community. To find out more visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/summitswithapurpose/


  • Woman of stature Award in the Sports category 2020.
  • Sports Woman of the Year 2019 
  • Ministerial Recognition of Excellence Award 2018
  • MMI Lesedi awards 2017
  • Winner of the Klipdrift Golden Endurance Award 2014

Saray continues to push boundaries, both professionally and in mountaineering. She has over time demonstrated her commitment to making a difference in her environment through mountaineering.

South Pole

The South Pole is also known as the Geographic Pole or Terrestrial South Pole. It is situated on the continent of Antarctica and is the southernmost point on the Earth and lies on the opposite side of the North Pole. It is 1½ times the size of the USA, with an altitude of 2,835 metres (9,301 ft) above sea level and is located about 1,300 km (800 mi) from the nearest open sea at Bay of Whales. Roald Amundsen a Norwegian explorer and his team of four were the first to reach the South pole on 14 December 1911. On the 1st of January 2020 Saray N’kusi Khumalo became the first black African woman to reach the South Pole.

Mount Everest

Everest is in the Himalaya mountain range at the border between Nepal and Tibet (China). It is the highest mountain in the world and called Sagarmāthā in Nepal and Chomolungma in Tibet. Everest is one of the 14 mountains over 8000 meters in the world and also one of the 7 summits. Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tenzing Norgay were the first pair to summit Mt. Everest with a British expedition in 1953. Sibusiso Vilane from South Africa is the first black man to summit Everest in 1996. On the 16th of May Saray N’kusi Khumalo became the first black African woman to summit Everest at (8850m).

Mount Aconcagua

Aconcagua is the highest peak outside the Himalaya and it is located in Argentina near the border with Chile. It is the highest mountain in South America at 6,980. Most climbers fly into Santiago (Chile) or Mendoza (Argentina) and take a bus to Puente del Inca for the normal route or to Penitentes for the Polish Glacier, Polish Traverse and Vacas routes. It is not part of the Andes mountain range but on an adjacent range thus stands out prominently above the surrounding peaks. It was first summited by Mathias Zurbriggen in 1897. In 2015 Saray N’kusi Khumalo summited Aconcagua at (6980m).​

Mount Elbrus

Elbrus is an extinct volcano in the Caucasus Main Range, the European border with Asia in southern Russia. Elbrus has two main summits – the western summit at 5642m and the eastern summit at 5621m. Mont Blanc is sometimes consider the highest in Europe but Elbrus technically holds that honor. The first ascent of the west peak was in 1829 by a Russian army team and the east in 1874 by an English team. In 2014 Saray N’kusi Khumalo summited Elbrus at (5642m).

Mount Kilimanjaro

Kilimanjaro has three peaks: Kibo, Shira and Mawenzi with Kibo being the summit. There are 5 main routes that meander from the jungle through five microclimates to join the three final ascent routes to Kibo. As one of the world’s highest volcanoes it was first summited in 1889 by Meyer and Purtscheller. In 2012 Saray N’kusi Khumalo summited Kilamanjero at (5896m).