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 northern Portugal and the scenic Douro Region on this fantastic trip plan that lets you deep dive into the area's sights, landmarks, culture, and flavors. You'll tour Porto with the help of an expert guide as well as culinary excursion, then you'll head into the spectacular Douro Valley, one of the loveliest wine regions in Europe. Taste flights of Port wines or local table blends and relax by the water's edge. You'll discover the charming towns of Guimarães and Braga, and will spend some time in the fantastic Viana do Castelo, home to a quaint historic core and access to great beaches. Round out your trip with a fantastic excursion to Peneda-Gerês National Park for waterfalls and a picnic with an iconic view.
Spend five days exploring the spectacular Algarve region, Portugal's southernmost area that sweeps westward to the Atlantic. You'll spend quality time in the region's two main cities — Faro and Lagos — and will discover gorgeous churches in Tavira, stunning beaches, phenomenal cliffside panoramas, and the area's incredible food. Plus you'll have plenty of time to lounge on the sand, cruise along the coast, and unwind amid urban charm and natural splendor.
Foodies will love this unique trip plan, which introduces you to Portuguese history and culture one bite at a time. You'll start in Lisbon, where a private guide will take you on a delicious culinary excursion that will set the stage — and your palette — for your epicurean adventure. Explore the old world charm of Óbidos and its historic castle, then hit the streets of Porto for a delectable lesson on the city's dynamic food scene. You'll also learn tips and tricks for recreating your favorite local specialties in a hands-on cooking workshop. End your trip with time in the stunning Douro Valley, where you can visit legendary wineries, learn about olive oil pressing, or take in the scenery on a relaxing boat ride.
Discover the unparalleled beauty and charm of Portugal's North and Douro region on this beautiful five-day itinerary. You'll start in iconic Porto, where you'll taste your way through the city and learn about its history, culture, and landmarks. Then you'll hit the road for the Douro Valley, which is perhaps the most beautiful wine region in all of Europe. Taste local Ports, learn about the olive oil pressing process, or glide along the Douro River on a relaxing boat ride. You'll end your trip with stops in gorgeous Braga and Viana do Castelo, a charming town with access to fantastic beaches.
A little over two weeks is all you need to visit the highlights of Spain. This 16-day itinerary is a whirlwind of royal palaces and Moorish temples, world-class gastronomy and some of the most beautiful natural landscapes anywhere in the world. The destinations you'll visit cover the map, from Barcelona and Basque Country to Madrid and the stunning cities of Andalusia, like Seville and Granada.
Get ready for the trip of a lifetime. In 17 days you'll experience the highlights of Spain, from Barcelona to Basque Country, Madrid to Andalusia. It's a grand tour that covers all the hallmarks of this incomparable nation, from the legendary food to the beautiful landscapes to the legendary architecture and historic palaces.
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