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
This epic Portugal tour highlights two cosmopolitan cities and a stunning mid-Atlantic island—part of an autonomous region—known for its tropical foliage and eternal spring-like weather. You'll kick off in Porto, home of centuries-old wine production and colorful architecture along the Douro River. Then fly to Madeira Island for secluded beaches and untouristed villages waiting to be discovered. Last but not least is the friendly, up-and-coming capital of Lisbon—a striking city built on seven hills.
This exciting two-week itinerary combines cosmopolitan cities, medieval architecture, and spectacular beaches for a Portuguese trip of a lifetime. After exploring Lisbon with a local guide, you'll stay in the fairytale village of Sintra and the surf town of Nazaré. Then work your way north to UNESCO-listed Porto and its nearby wine region before heading to the university town of Évora. End the trip in pure bliss with some beach time in the western Algarve.
This weeklong itinerary covers Portugal's biggest metropolis and its southern coast for a city-beach combo that's hard to beat. Kick off in Europe's hottest capital—Lisbon—for a guided introduction to the 'City of Seven Hills', including nearby highlights like Sintra and Cascais. Then, take the train south for several days of glorious beach-hopping while based in a charming old city surrounded by stone walls: Lagos.
This 10-day trip splits time between Portugal's exciting capital and its southern coast while moving at a relaxed pace. Kick off the adventure in up-and-coming Lisbon for a guided introduction to the 'City of Seven Hills', including nearby highlights like Sintra and Cascais. Then, choose your own day-trip before taking the train to Lagos for several days of golden beaches and picturesque villages in the Algarve.
Experience three of Portugal's most iconic destinations on this 10-day trip starting in Lisbon where you'll tour ancient ruins, cobbled streets, and a UNESCO-listed village in the forested hills. Next, head north to Porto—famous for wine production and colorful architecture along the Douro River. The hardest decisions fall at the end where you can choose between spectacular beaches and white-washed villages in the Algarve.
This road trip is ideal for those who want to experience Portugal's two biggest cities and bucolic countryside at a relaxed pace. After strolling around Lisbon with a guide, you'll make your way north to UNESCO-listed Porto and its nearby mountains and vineyards. Finish off in the medieval town of Évora with plenty of free time to explore the Alentejo—a vast region known for olive groves, cork production, and rustic cuisine.
Recent trip reviews for Karin
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