Although born and raised in New Hampshire, USA, I have had the fortune to live in places as diverse as Vail, Colorado; Salzburg, Austria; London, a small village in England and Madrid has been my home for the last 7 years. I started Espíritu Travel with my partner who is Spanish because we wanted to create customized trips that had a more local feel. I love creating trips that include both the highlights of Spain and Portugal as well as the off-the-beaten-path places. Those hidden gems you would not otherwise know were there. Espíritu Travel has offices in both the US and Spain.
What places and activities do you specialize in?
"We specialize in trips to Spain and Portugal as well as Cuba. In both countries, we have our own offices so we can create all types of tailor-made trips; culture, art, history, culture, architecture, gastronomy, outdoor activities, nature-based, small groups, off the beaten track"
How did you get involved in travel?
"I got involved in travel by chance when I saw a job advertisement for a reservation agent at an international tour operator. I applied, got the job and three days later I was answering calls (80 per day) to sell trips around the world. One minute I was discussing a trip to Japan, the next hiking the Inca trail. It was a steep learning curve but I loved it. Within 3 months, I took a trip to Peru and nine months later I was promoted to operations specialist for Latin America. I loved the work and loved working in this aspect of the travel industry. I still love the work.....20 years later. During those twenty years, I have worked in various roles in the tourism industry, hotels and travel companies, in addition, I hold both a masters degree in international tourism development and conservation. I also spent a couple of years working as a consultant in sustainable tourism before launching my own travel company. I have traveled extensively, 45 countries to date including visiting Cuba over the last decade 11 times. I have also lived for many years in Europe in both the UK and Spain. "
Please share a unique travel experience you will never forget.
"One of the most unique experiences I had was while on a hike in the Sierra de Gredos, a very rural area about 2,5 hours from Madrid. I was hiking with a conservation group and we had reached the top when the sky just opened up and it started to pour. And I mean downpour. We tried to make our way down as quickly as possible but it was a slog trying to not fall on the slippery grass and rocks. The 15 of us came upon a goat herders house (more like makeshift huts put together) and they welcomed us in to their home! All of us of drenched hikers, it was more than that, they quickly started preparing food for us, bringing out a giant wheel of goat cheese, of course from their own goats and other snacks they had on hand. They had homemade drinks, they even started a fire so we could dry our clothes. We all just sat around talking to them or a couple of hours and enjoying their unbelievable hospitality. Finally the rain let up and we made the difficult trek back down. A once in a lifetime moment of authentic experience."
Featured trips & expertise
Explore Portugal's epic coast and spend time discovering city centers, tiny towns, and picturesque beaches on this 14-day trip plan. You'll enjoy guided tours of Porto and Lisbon and will hike through the stunning landscapes in Peneda-Gerês National Park. With the Atlantic at your side, you'll discover beautiful towns like Viana do Castelo, Braga, and Aveiro (whose Venice-like canals are sure to charm you). Make the most of the coast with stops in gorgeous Lagos and surfing hotspots like Vila Nova de Milfontes and Sagres.
Spend two-weeks taking in the best of Portugal's scenery, history, food, and wine. This trip plan begins with three days in the Azores on the gorgeous green isle of São Miguel; discover the charming city of Ponta Delgada, sample local delicacies, go whale watching, and admire the island on an amazing hike. You'll then head to Lisbon for two days of city life, followed by a string of beautiful towns and UNESCO World Heritage sites. End your stay with time in Porto and enjoy tasting flights of incredible Porto wine in the sweeping romance of the Douro Valley.
Escape to the coast on this gorgeous 10-day exploration, that includes ample time is Porto and Lisbon, and stops through charming seafaring towns with fantastic beaches, delicious fresh seafood, and dramatic coastlines. Go hiking in the unparalleled beauty of Peneda-Gerês National Park, hit the waves in the surfing hot-spot of Sagres, and laze in the sand on the Instagram-worthy beaches of the Algarve.
This trip is perfect for the epicurean and all-around bon vivant! Spend ten days traveling through Portugal's culinary epicenters and exploring its dynamic and unforgettable wine regions. You'll take food tours in city centers, visit a marketplace with a chef (then take a cooking class!), go wine tasting, and learn the stories and traditions behind Portuguese cuisine and libations. And, of course—no trip to Portugal would be complete without a lesson (and tasting or two) of iconic Port wine.
See the highlights of Portugal's cities, beaches, and gorgeous towns on this fantastic itinerary that takes you through the country's must-see gems. Explore the urban centers of Lisbon and Porto with the help of experts, in-the-know-locals, and unique opportunities to see — and taste! — the wonderful vibrancy of Portugal. You'll also visit tiny villages, imposing palaces, and dramatic beach towns that off-the-beaten-path. This trip plan is a wonderful option if it's your first time in the country!
Immerse yourself in the drama, romance, and flavor of Portugal's north, including the city of Porto and the spectacular Douro region, home to what's considered by many to be the most beautiful wine-growing region in all of Europe. You'll bookend your trip with time in Porto, where you'll embark on a fun food excursion. Then it's off to a number of incredible villages, heritage sites, and a wonderful national park. You'll also delve deep into the Douro Region, with time to go wine tasting in the iconic Douro Valley, home to world-famous Port wine.
Recent trip reviews for Karin
Overall excellent experience... · Cuba - Nov 24 - Nov 29, 2019
Overall excellent experience. Vinales National Park was worth the 3 hour drive. Bike ride through Vinales was incredible. Very thankful that we did a full day guided tour in Havana on our first day. It helped us get our bearings and find a comfort zone for the remainder of the trip. Karin was very responsive and tremendous to work with.
Truly a reliable travel agency and an amazing experience · Cuba - Oct 15 - Oct 19, 2019
I am very impressed with the service. I submitted my request less than a week before I decided to make a trip to Cuba. Karin responded quickly to my request and curated an itinerary for me. I’m grateful for the swift respond and the customised planned itinerary with accommodation included.
When I arrived Cuba, it took me a while to find my tour guide (Fernando). My feedback is that the signages could be bigger. But other than that, it was alright.
Throughout the trip, I had 2 tour guides... read more
A great introduction to Cuba · Cuba - Oct 9 - Oct 13, 2019
Carlos is a great and experienced guide. He was very candid and happy to answer any questions about Cuba, the political situation, and more. It was a refreshing and fascinating introduction to the country - our only regret was that our trip was too short.
driving Spain · Spain - Sep 6 - Sep 21, 2019
My wife and I recently took a trip to Spain and it was a trip of a lifetime in large part due to the creativity and attention to detail of Karin and the entire KimKim team.
Following a week on the Camino de Santiago from Sarria to Santiago de Compostela we did a driving tour of southern Spain including Salamanca, Caceres, Toledo, Seville, Córdoba and Granada. Kimkim’s support was top notch from start to finish.
Creative pre-trip planning based based on our likes/ dislikes and strong... read more
Walking & site seeing in Spain · Spain - May 12 - May 28, 2019
We had a great trip and are sending a big shout out and thanks to our local specialist - Karin Eckhard w/Espiritu Travels - and her team. We were in expert, caring hands w/Karin: she was very responsive and capable in orchestrating our 16-day trip to Spain and Portugal with "lots of moving parts". We were pretty specific in where we wanted to go and what we were interested in (architecture, history, nature, hiking/biking, food/wine, culture) and she accommodated it all! Everything went like... read more
Portugal in 5 Days · Portugal - May 23 - May 27, 2019
Karin was just great. She planned the best trip ever and help us get the most of Portugal in just 1 week. All the hotels, tours and transfers were perfect. She was always available and proactive while we were there.
The Kim Kim Team is also great. They have this great company that is always willing to satisfy and help their clients!
Portugal · Portugal - May 9 - May 24, 2019
Almost all of the trip when exactly by the itinerary, except when one time a driver waited to pick us up at the train station where instead we were to be picked up at our hotel. Another time, one tour was rescheduled with no notification to Karin or us, but we were able to get in touch with the tour guide who cancelled and said our tour was rescheduled for the next day which still fit into our schedule. Most memorable places were the Douro Valley and wine and port tasting, and Tomar, the... read more
5 Days in Cuba - 6 Unique Itinerary Ideas · Cuba - May 15 - May 20, 2019
Karin was so easy to work with. Booking the trip could not have been easier.
The trip to Cuba was really seamless and eye opening. Everything went off without a hitch and was well paced. We loved all of our guides. Fernando was waiting for us at the airport in Havana and was with us both days in Havana. He was knowledge, fun and accommodating. His love for Cuba was evident.
He drove us to Trinidad where we stayed at the Casa de Mi y Osi. It was in a perfect location and we could not have... read more
Spring Portugal Trip · Portugal - Apr 6 - Apr 21, 2019
All hotels were quite fine. Staff in hotels were great . The rooms assigned to me were underwhelming. All private guides were outstanding. Overall the trip was wonderfull.
Cuba 2019, Father and Son trip · Cuba - Apr 14 - Apr 19, 2019
Very educational trip, tour company did it's best to insure our best possible experience.
Trip to Portugal · Portugal - Mar 29 - Apr 5, 2019
Without doubt one of our favorite trip so far! Portugal is an awesome country to visit.
Upon arrival we were warmly welcomed by our driver , our names were mentioned on the board and we felt welcomed and with such a friendly atmosphere we had a fantastic start! The guides and tour were extremely good, very flexible (appreciate this!) and for that the organizer, Karin, deserves a special thanks. We had three great days in Porto and Porto area, which obviously also added up to the experience,... read more
Father Son Havana · Cuba - Mar 13 - Mar 17, 2019
Karin and Espiritu Travel teamed up for a great inaugural trip to Havana. Karin communicated well and responsively throughout the entire pre-trip experience.
Julio met me at the airport and was basically a full-time guide from 9-10am until we packed it in for the day. Julio is a proud Cuban and incredibly knowledgeable about history, culture and life in general -- and very customer service (American style) focused. Luis, another guide in training tagged along for a couple of days and was... read more
Cuba for Culture · Cuba - Feb 7 - Feb 12, 2019
We could not have been more pleased with our experience with Karin, Ariel (our guide), and the people of Cuba. It was an enlightening trip where we learned far more than we ever thought we would about the little island to the south.
Karin’s itinerary was well thought out and tailored to meet our interests. She was a pleasure to work with.
Ariel was extremely informative and passionate about his home country. He was interested in learning of the differences in our cultures and governments... read more
Organized “Freedom” in Cuba · Cuba - Nov 21 - Nov 21, 2018
Karin was extremely responsive and patient as we planned the trip. Our in-country guide, Thais, was extremely professional and knowledgeable. Right away she made us feel welcomed and went out of her way to ensure we enjoyed our experience. Our drivers (Pedro and Ivan) arrived on time and their cars were well-maintained and comfortable. I highly recommend KimKim and Espíritu Travel!
Discovering lower part of Spain · Spain - Oct 17 - Oct 26, 2018
First of all, this was my dream trip which is well organized and to new places which I really wanted to visit. I usually plan all of my leaves and it takes a lot of time and effort to select the places, hotels, type of tours and other. For this trip and by sudden I saw kimkim team and decide to let them plan my trip with my husband. It was really easy to use this web to plan and complete all the payment through the website. Also, connecting me with Karin who is really really supportive and... read more
Planning Your Visit to Cuba · Cuba - Aug 4 - Aug 10, 2018
Eiser was our guide and he was excellent in his knowledge of Cuba and his awareness of our needs. His driving on the trip to Trinidad was excellent and navigated the many pot holes with extreme expertise and diligence. He made the trip fantastic with his calmness and willingness to go the extra mile for whoever needed it. There was one participant who was quite difficult at times, and always late for whatever we were doing and complained about everything, but he showed great equanimity,... read more