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, Spain has been my home for the last 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. We can create all types of tailor-made trips; culture, art, history, culture, architecture, gastronomy, outdoor activities, nature-based, small groups, and off-the-beaten path. "
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."
Karin's favorite itineraries and travel advice
Top itineraries and travel advice
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...
This adventure is the perfect introduction to Portugal for first-timers. Over the course of a week, you'll explore Lisbon's exciting food and culture scene, take scenic day...
This itinerary includes Portugal's two biggest cities, a slew of historic villages, and some spectacular beaches for an epic adventure to remember. Start in up-and-coming Lisbon...
This two-week family vacation combines Portugal's beaches, palaces, and flavors with Spain's flamenco, royalty, and parks. Start your trip in Portugal with highlights kids and...
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...
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...
Spend a week exploring world-class cuisine at five of the top Michelin Star restaurants in the Algarve. Visit a world-famous wine cellar, explore medieval town squares, and try...
From medieval castles to some of the world's best wine, explore Spain's culture and history on this luxury weeklong getaway. Start in Barcelona where Catalan-modernist...
Road trip itineraries
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,...
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,...
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...
Recent trip reviews for Karin
Exploring Mallorca and Ibiza
Oct 17 - Oct 26, 2022
We were finally able to take our long-delayed trip (due to COVID) and we're very happy with every aspect of the trip. Karin was extremely responsive and took the time to explain everything thoroughly. The excursions were all top notch and we were pleased that most of them were private. The guides were excellent and very friendly. We hiked in the Tramuntana mountains with Nina, did e-cycling in Ibiza with Heather and had tours of Palma and old Ibiza. The hotels were also excellent. Due to... read more
Spain is the place to go 2022
Aug 13 - Aug 29, 2022
The overall experience was 5 stars. Karin’s direct experience and knowledge of Spain provided invaluable information in making decisions about the itinerary of the trip. The interactive application provided by Kimkim during the trip was extremely useful to review daily plans and verify trip details. read more
Family trip to Portugal
Jul 1 - Jul 11, 2022
KimKim made planning our trip to Portugal fun, personal, and customizable. Our local specialist, Karin, was incredibly thoughtful and attentive a long the way - including through the planning process and logistics on the ground. We cannot sing her praises enough! read more
We did a 15 day tour of Spain:Madrid- The H...
May 14 - Jun 1, 2022
We did a 15 day tour of Spain:
Madrid- The Hotel Regina was well located, had a pleasant room, and great staff. They were very friendly and helpful to new tourists.
May 16: Arantxa -tour of Prada and Madrid- Prada was rushed- it needs a tour by itself. The stroll and food part of the tour was very good, especially the stop for Vermouth and Tapas. Arantxa is very personable and down to earth. She was willing to answer any questions and was excited to see us when we ran into her a few days... read more
An Extraordinary Trip to 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...
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
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 ...
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
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
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!
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!
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
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...
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
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
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.
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
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
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!
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