• Our People

    Get to know the family and staff.

T.A. Carrithers

Owner, Manager & Guide

T.A. has been coming to Ranquilco since the age of ten. His years in Patagonia have been well spent - through endless riding and hiking he has formed a deeply intimate knowledge of the land. For several years he worked for the Boulder Outdoor Survival School leading trips into the desert and mountains of Utah. Along with teaching primitive survival and outdoor leadership skills, he was responsible for directing all aspects of 27-day outdoor leadership courses with 30 students and 6 staff members.  It was during that period that he discovered that spending time with people in the backcountry is highly rewarding, exhilarating, and just plain fun. He has also worked as a pilot in the Wrangell-Saint Elias Mountains of Alaska in the North American summers. He currently lives on a ranch in northern California for half the year and continues to spend many months of the year at Ranquilco

Lulu Waks

Manager, Gardener & Guide

Lulu first traveled to Ranquilco in 2005 on a botany and natural history field course. Seven years later, the experience still powerful in her mind, she seized the opportunity to return to the Estancia as garden manager. She’s been traveling to the ranch every year since - spending the Southern Hemisphere summers working as both a guide and the manager of the organic garden. Lulu considers Ranquilco's rich quality of life, daily offerings of adventure, and boundless, rugged land cause for deep appreciation and awe.

While at home in her native California, Lulu's profession is in ecology and natural resource management. She recently received her Master’s degree in Rangeland Ecology and Management from University of California, Berkeley.

Tom VonGnechten

Internship Coordinator & Blacksmith

Tom has spent his adult life in pursuit of self-sufficiency and sustainablity. His love for the wilderness has led him to various remote, off-grid living situations where he has acquired the skills needed to grow food, build, and make tools.

Tom's life experiences and wide-ranging skill sets lend themselves well to life in the wilds of Patagonia. As the internship coordinator, Tom teaches interns the basics of homesteading - be it metal work, gardening, building, milking, writing haikus or any number of activities, Tom's infectious enthusiasm and energy brings joy to any work task.  As the resident metallurgist, he runs a modest smithy where he repairs, creates, and innovates.

Most guests at Ranquilco see only a blur of Tom as he scurries between work tasks. If you do have a chance encounter to pause him, he will be delighted to share a maté with you and expound upon the beautiful joy of existence.

Alyssa Young

Wrangler & Guide

Alyssa grew up in the rolling hills of northern California and made her first trip to Ranquilco in 2013. She quickly developed a sense of place and love for the Ranquilco community that grows and grows. Alyssa has spent her whole life working with horses and finds a deep sense of satisfaction from collaborating with horses and packstock to get a job done. She loves horsemanship and mountain travel as much as she loves botanizing and gleaning stories about the landscapes she moves through, and is especially inspired and motivated by sharing these experiences with others. When not in Patagonia, Alyssa oscillates between working as a mountain guide in California's Sierra Nevada mountains, instructing snow science and avalanche courses for Prescott College, and teaching environmental education. 

Phil Straub

Jack Of All Trades

Phil has spent much of his life searching for adventure in wild landscapes. This pursuit has taken him to remote corners of Alaska, deep into the mountains and deserts of North America, and eventually to Ranquilco. Phil has been living on and off grid for many years and enjoys using the skills he's developed to approach opportunities and challenges presented by life in the Patagonian Steppe. Whether he is baking sourdough bread, working on building projects, or exploring the land on foot or horseback, Phil finds purpose and belonging in life at Ranquilco. When not in Patagonia, Phil works as an environmental scientist, mainly in snow science and hydrology, teaches avalanche safety courses, and works as a guide in and around Yosemite National Park in California.

Victor Callesen

Wrangler & Guide

Victor came to Estancia Ranquilco from Denmark as a volunteer carpenter in January 2011. Although he had never been in the Andes, or on a horse before, he instantly fell in love with the place and the lifestyle.

Victor’s introduction to nature came as a child in Denmark: growing up in the country with a father who hunted and taught him the joy of being outdoors. He later studied to be a carpenter and started his own company in Copenhagen, working for several years on a variety of projects in Denmark, Sweden, and Norway. A year of traveling in Southeast Asia and Central and South America ended with discovering Ranquilco. After spending the summer building at Ranquilco, Victor decided to come back in 2012 and 2013 as a horse guide.

Now, Victor spends several months a year at Ranquilco, working as head wrangler, guiding visitors around the ranch and leading pack trips into the Andes.

Manuel Cuevas

Gaucho & Caretaker

Manuel was born and raised on Ranquilco. After a few years of study in the nearest town, El Cholar, Manuel came back to work on the property for the former owners and has stayed on ever since.  He is greatly respected by all, as he knows the history and all of the inner workings of the Estancia better than anyone. Save for his trips to town to visit his wife and children, Manuel is a mainstay at Ranquilco.

Sylvana Manterola

Gaucha & Guide

(Translated from Spanish)

Sylvana came to Ranquilco for the first time at the age of seven, and thinks of Ranquilco as her paradise in the world. As a longstanding member of the Ranquilco community, she spreads her magic powers of joyfullness and anecdotes of life to each person who visits the place. The rest of the year she works as a vet and agricultural technician, performing animal husbandry. She's also an ecologist, and enjoys working in reforestation doing staff management and advising on an educational farm. She also works with Mapuche communities.

Sylvana says, “I am part of the family that lives with emotion each summer, riding in the beautiful mountains of Patagonia. I have plenty of experience taming bulls and horses - a magnificent therapy. I recommend coming to Ranquilco - if you are looking for a place to relax your mind this is the ideal and perfect place.”

Ashley Carrithers


His memories of travel, adventure, flying, sailing, diving, polo, business, philanthropy, writing and striving for ever more freedom, appreciation and love, dance with the inciting energies of deep peace inherent in the experience of Ranquilco. He is pleased to share this with those that come to Ranquilco, and hopes that some hints of life defining peace-filled perfections may be witnessed, as pure Nature whispers her dreams of enjoyment in birdcall, river purl, and wild, wild winds.

Kincaid Carrithers

Can Fishing Expert & Guide

Kincaid has been making the journey between Northern California and the Estancia every year since birth. While at the ranch, he spends most of his time enjoying the simpler things in life, such as can fishing, riding, and hanging with the volunteers. He can be found hiding among the woodland creatures and sitting in the library pretending to do school work. Over the years, Kincaid has developed a strong bond with the land, people, and animals at Ranquilco. He is beginning to assist his dad, T.A., in guiding pack trips, day rides, and fishing excursions.  


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