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 almost a decade. 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.....more than 20 years later. During those 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, 50 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 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 herder's house (more like makeshift huts put together) and they welcomed us into their home! All of us 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 for 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
Get to the heart of Porto and northern Portugal on this unique 12-day itinerary that combines history, gastronomy, and stunning countryside. Starting with a selection of guided tours and day trips, you'll explore Porto's UNESCO-listed city center, sample the best local cuisine, and cruise the Douro River through spectacular wine country. On day six you'll shift to a more independent itinerary, self-driving your way south through Coimbra, Nazare, and Obidos as you explore the rest of the region's highlights at your own pace.
This 8-day tour takes you through the historic districts of Madrid, Valencia, and Barcelona, starting with a tapas tour and visit to the famous El Prado Museum in Spain's capital. Enjoy a day trip to a medieval city near Madrid before driving to the coast and eating paella in Valencia. End the trip in Barcelona by sailing its coastline and exploring its culinary scene.
This 9-day road trip includes stops at some of Spain's most historic locales, including Madrid, Toledo, and the Andalusian cities of Seville and Granada. Celebrate rich Spanish culture as you tour historic Old Towns by foot and bike, all while tasting delicious tapas and enjoying a flamenco show. You'll explore the southern countryside with a tour of an olive oil farm and a hike along Caminito del Rey, and then visit Granada to discover one of the most impressive Moorish palaces in Europe, the Alhambra.
Explore the highlights of Spain by visiting the cities of Madrid, Córdoba, and Granada on this 8-day trip. You'll enjoy private tours of the historic old towns, as well as a day trip to Toledo to learn about its historic steel production and marzipan. End the trip in Spain's southern region Andalusía with tours of the Alhambra in Granada, the Mezquita in Córdoba, and the famous White Villages in the countryside.
Discover the highlights of Spain's cities and nature on this tour, starting in Picos de Europa National Park near Bilbao, and heading into Madrid via the UNESCO city of Segovia with its ancient Roman aqueduct. Visit the region of Andalucía, exploring the cities of Granada, Seville, and Ronda, plus hiking the Caminito del Rey, exploring the white villages, and enjoying an optional beach day. End your trip on the island of Mallorca, discovering its historic inland villages and coastal harbors, as well as its caves, mountains, and wineries.
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.
Recent trip reviews for Karin
An Extraordinary Trip to Portugal · Portugal - Apr 20 - May 1, 2022
First and foremost, accolades to kimkim, Espiritu Travel, and Karin Eckhard for planning my family’s trip to Portugal; it was extraordinary. We are still reminiscing about the culture, food, and people of Portugal. Karin did an incredible job developing our very thoughtful and organized trip plans.
The tours and private transfers that Karin arranged were above outstanding. Our tour guides and private transfers were prompt, professional, and very personable. Our tour guides were extremely... read more
I really appreciated the service that went in... · Portugal - Apr 16 - Apr 25, 2022
I really appreciated the service that went into planning our trip. We stayed in Estoi at Palacio de Estoi. I appreciated staying out of the way of the more touristed areas. The food was good, the room and view was lovely, the pool was very nice. Taking a car to where we wanted to go worked out really well. We had a really nice boat trip out of Rio Formosa with a guide Joao from Fantastikspirit out of Olhao. Loved the hotel Almalusa hotel in Lisbon. The breakfast at the Almalusa was really... read more
Great trip organized well · Spain - Dec 24 - Jan 1, 2022
Due to Covid, this trip was booked last minute due to several iterations. Karin made it possible and was even available during the trip in spite of a personal situation. She is the best to work with.
Karin planned our trip across Northern Spain ... · Spain - Aug 31 - Sep 8, 2021
Karin planned our trip across Northern Spain that we had wanted to do for many years. Although we had some specific places that we wanted to see, Karin was able to recommend several places that we would never have found, and that absolutely delighted us. She hired guides that were knowledgable, friendly and flexible, and twice when an emergency came up for them, another was substituted at the last minute, which was also great! We could never have done that. I recommend Karin, and Espiritu... read more
Portugal Travel Extraordinaire · Portugal - Sep 9 - Sep 24, 2021
We have traveled a great deal in our lives, but concerns about handling our own arrangements in light of the ever changing Covid restrictions led us to Kimkim, Espiritu Travel and Karin Exkhard our travel consultant. We were so pleased with every aspect of our trip, the attention to details, response time, selection of tours, guides, and flexibility when changes were either necessary due to inclement weather, or we decided to add a tour mid trip, or change a destination during the final days... read more
Portugal done right · Portugal - Aug 21 - Aug 29, 2021
Every guide we had, and there were several, was prompt, professional, engaging and courteous!
I’d never travel again without going through Kim Kim!
What a blast! · Portugal - Aug 21 - Aug 29, 2021
We could not have asked for a better itinerary. We saw so much in such a short amount of time, yet had enough time to ourselves to explore.
Every guide was friendly and professional. It was like meeting a new friend in Portugal everyday.
Thank you so much for the very well thought of tour for us. I will definitely recommend you to my friends and family!
Northern Portugal:10days · Portugal - Aug 8 - Aug 17, 2021
The trip was planned really well. Karin actually took into considerations my preferences and requests and planned it out well in a very short period of time. Karin and Marina were available even during the trip in case I had questions and were very prompt in their responses. They really were experts in the city and provided recommendations on what to do during my trip in a short period of tome with a blend of power packed days and free days for leisure so that it felt like a holiday. The... read more
Cuba was a nice place to get away from being connected all the time · Cuba - Jan 16 - Jan 20, 2020
Cuba was a nice place to get away from being connected all the time. The great weather is a huge plus.
Usually, I personally prefer mid-budget, backpacking style trips, but I was with family and saw that Cuba is easier to see with a guide, so I opted for a guided tour. For my first time in Cuba, I wanted to see a little bit of everything, so I asked for an itinerary which included Havana, Viñales, and the beach. This itinerary is a very common one, and the price appears to be similar to tour... read more
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