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Pitta Nature Tours
Himalayan Snowcock Expedition

Introduced in the Ruby Mountains in Nevada in the 1960s, a wild population of Himalayan Snowcock established to become a destination species for American Birding Association listers.  This quick tour will focus on this species and a few other local specialties.

Upcoming Tour Date(s)

August 24-26, 2024 QUICK TRIP

5 of 7 Spaces Available

Itinerary

Itinerary subject to change due to weather, birding conditions, and other factors out of our control.

Day 1 Arrive in SLC and transfer to Elko

Arrive in SLC by 4:00pm and we will depart immediately for Elko, Nevada. We'll stop briefly during the 4-hour drive to check out the Bonneville Salt Flats, and to grab light refreshments in Wendover, before continuing on to Nevada for dinner and an early night.

Night in Elko, Nevada

Day 2 The Search for Himalayan Snowcock

It will be a very early morning--departing the hotel by 3:15 am, we'll drive 45 minutes to the trailhead in the dark. The trek to the valley where we'll find Himalayan Snowcock takes about 90-120 minutes at a slow to moderate pace. We give ourselves up to 2 hours to make sure we are in place by 6:00 AM at an ideal viewing location. Then comes the hard work of scanning rugged terrain and slopes for our quarry. It's not uncommon for Black Rosy-Finch and Clark's Nutcracker to grace us with their presence while we search.

We'll spend several hours in search of our target after which we'll make our way back down the trail and back to town for lunch before taking a long afternoon break. In the evening we'll have dinner before visiting a nearby reservoir to see if any fall shorebird migrants are on the move.

Night in Elko, NV

Day 3 South Fork, Migrant Traps, and End of Tour

Today is a backup for snowcock. If for some reason we miss during our hike the previous day, we can help you arrange a helicopter tour with a local provider (~$150 to 300/person). We DO NOT build this into the price of the tour anymore since it is cost prohibitive, and hasn't been needed in the past. We'll spend the rest of the morning birding around Elko to see what birds we can add to our list, and potentially picking up any migrants at a vareity of migrant traps on the way back to SLC. We should be back in SLC no later than 4:00 PM, where we will have an early dinner before dropping you off at local hotels or the airport for late flights around 5:00 PM.

End of Tour!

2024 Pricing

Single Room

You’ll have your own room for the duration of the tour.

Max Participants: 7
$1,249 per person
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Looking for another option?

Want to combine this tour with a trek for Himalayan Snowcock, more time birding in Utah and Nevada, and witness the incredible phalarope migration spectacle? Checkout our Mountain West Most Wanted Tour!

What's Included & What to Expect

What to Expect on Your Tour

On the day our tour beings we will provide pickup from Salt Lake International Airport and nearby hotels between 3:00 and 4:00 PM.  By 4:00 PM we will have gathered everyone to kick the tour off! At the end of the tour, we will drop you off at the airport or nearby hotels by 5:00 PM.

Transportation

Throughout the tour, we will travel in our comfortable 12-person Transit Van (aptly named Otus).  Since this tour caps at 7-people, that means each of our 3-rows in the back has just 2-people, with the 7th passenger riding shotgun.  Lots of room to stretch out with your gear and not feel like a sardine in a tin.  Throughout the tour, we'll switch up seating arrangements so everyone gets a different view day-to-day.  

We provide a step stool for easy access in and out of the van and ice-cold water is available whenever you need from the back of the van with a custom tour water bottle provided for you to keep at the beginning of the tour.

Accomodations

Depending on current conditions and availability we may stay at the Maverick Casino or a mid-major brand like Hilton or Marriott.

Meals

Breakfasts will be boxed and eaten in the field.  Lunches will be at a sit-down restaurants.  Dinners are at our favorite local restaurants. Water and soft drinks are included with meals, but alcoholic drinks ARE NOT.  They may be purchased on your own with meals.

Pace

The pace of the tour is fast--we cover roughly 700 miles in 3-days and have early mornings to pick up our target birds. The day of the snowcock hike, we will take the afternoon off to relax, before doing some light birding in the evening. The final day we will do some light birding in Elko, as well as on our way back to Salt Lake City.

Difficulty

This tour is short, but physically demanding. On the morning we hike for Himalayan Snowcock we must do a 2-mile (each way) hike starting around 9,000' in elevation and gaining about 1,000' feet.  Most of the hike is done in the dark on a well-maintained trail but if you are not in the right physical condition you may not be able to do this portion of the trip. 

Weather and Temperature

This tour provides for interesting days and nights, as we move between high elevation sites in the mountains and low elevations sites in the Great Basin.  It is not uncommon for daytime temperatures at lower elevations to reach into the high 90’s.  While in the mountains daytime temps range from the 40’s to 70’s.  Hiking early in the morning in the Ruby's, the temperatures can dip into the 30’s.  I recommend bring a variety of clothing, that is easily layered.  On our morning hikes in the Ruby Mountains, a jacket and long pants are recommended--by afternoon in the valleys it will be very warm so lighter wear will be preferred. Rain jackets are nice to have, but we don’t see rain often on this tour, and I can provide $2 ponchos in case of an emergency downpour.  Sturdy hiking shoes with good ankle support are highly recommended for the hikes.

Insects, Snakes, and Predators

Oh my!  Mosquitoes can be found at most places we will be visiting, so protective clothing or repellent is highly recommended.  While there are other biting bugs, most are not very active this time of year.  There is one species of rattlesnake in the Great Basin, but we have not encountered them on any tours.  With that being said, please be aware it is possible to encounter them.  And lastly, there are both Black Bear and Cougar in the Mountain West, but in 13 years of guiding I have never encountered either during a tour!

Non-bird Highlights

  • Bonneville Salt Flats
  • The dramatic Ruby Mountains
  • Tree of Life Eart Art
  • Summer Sunrises & Sunsets
  • Up to 10 Possible Mammal Species
  • Summer Wildflowers & Butterflies
  • Some reallly good food!

What's Included

  • Professional Guide Service
  • Transportation from SLC
  • 2-nights Accomodations
  • Meals from Dinner Night 1 to Dinner Night 3.
  • Spotting Scope while Birding
  • Water for Refreshment
  • Birds—we’ll find some birds
  • Some Flammtastic Tour Swag
  • Delightful Conversation about Birds
  • A Thoroughly Enjoyable Time!
We also include SFW dad jokes, witty bird puns, and the occasional commentary on things non-bird related!

What's Not Included

  • Alcoholic Drinks
  • Binoculars
  • Cameras and Lenses
  • Personal Flashlights/Headlamps
  • Bug Spray
  • Jackets or Sweaters
  • Shoes and Socks
  • Flights or Transportation to Utah
We highly recommend all of the above ;)

Still have questions? Ready to book a tour? Either way tapping the buttons below will put you in touch with us!

Past Himalayan Snowcock Expeditions

2023 Himalayan Snowcock Expedition
August 27-29, 2023
2023 Himalayan Snowcock Expedition View Trip Report

2022 Himalayan Snowcock Expedition
August 28-30, 2022
2022 Himalayan Snowcock Expedition View Trip Report

July 30 - August 1, 2021
2021 Himalayan Snowcock Expedition Read Recap

Recent Photos from this Tour

Still have questions? Ready to book a tour? Either way tapping the buttons below will put you in touch with us!

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