Albania A ferry trip across the Komani Lake is a highlight of every Albania trip and should not be missing on any to-do list. The journey, which leads you through the Albanian Alps, takes about 2.5 hours. On both sides rugged cliffs tower up and remind one of the Norwegian fjords. In my following article you will find out everything you need to know before you start your ferry trip.
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Here you can read my main article about our Road Trip Albania - 15 Highlights & Tips and Route.
The Komani Lake in Albania
The Koman Lake is a reservoir that dams the Drin River in northern Albania. It is also fed by the rivers Valbona and Shala. In deep gorges, the reservoir stretches for 34 kilometres through the Albanian Alps. The valley is no wider than 400 metres and the mountains rise several hundred metres. At its narrowest point, the Koman reservoir is only 50 meters wide.
The associated dam is located just behind Koman and was built between 1979 and 1988 as part of a major energy production project. The project was partly realised with the support of the Chinese. The dam measures an impressive 115 metres and dams the lake to an area of twelve square kilometres. The reservoir is up to 96 metres deep and holds up to 430 million cubic metres of water.
The hydropower plant operates four turbines that supply 600 MW of electricity. This made it the largest hydroelectric power station in Southeast Europe at the time. However, due to water shortages, electricity production has had to be reduced several times in recent years. Nevertheless, most of the Albanian electricity is still produced from the reservoir.
You are traveling in Albania without a car? Then maybe the guided day tour to Koman Reservoir from Tiranais interesting for you.
By Ferry from Koman to Fierza
A ferry ride across the Komani Lake is the most beautiful way to get from the town of Skodra to the Valbona Valley. For us it was the second stage of our road trip in Albania. During the ferry trip you can experience the Albanian mountains from the water in a very relaxed way.
Already the approach from Skodra to Koman via the mountain road SH 25 is a highlight and offers again and again beautiful views of the Drin. The road is paved, but in bad condition, so you better plan a little more time for the 30 kilometers from the village Vau-Deja to Koman. Along the route there is always the possibility for a stopover and a cooling down in the water. And soon numerous masts for high-voltage power lines will indicate that a lot of electricity is produced here at the reservoirs.
The Ferry Fleet from the Koman Lake
In summer 2018 there were two ferry operators: Komani Lake Ferry operates two smaller ferries Berisha and Dragobia. In July 2018 we had pre-booked tickets for the crossing with our camper online. But when we arrived the evening before we found out that our ferry was taken out of service because of safety problems. The money was given back via Paypal and we could even buy tickets for the following day on a bigger ferry. This was from Alpin and could transport about 60 vehicles.
On board the Alpin there are drinks and snacks, on the upper deck you can sit down and enjoy the view. Albanian music sounds from a loudspeaker and many accompanying Albanians dance to it. It is a pleasant, relaxed atmosphere and you can make nice contacts.
Prices (2018): Komani Lake Ferry charges 6 Euro per square meter. For our camper this was 60 Euro plus 6 Euro per person.
On the ferry Alpin the tickets for the camper with driver cost between 54 and 77 Euro and 8 Euro per additional person.
Departure times (2018): From Koman the ferries of Komani Lake Ferry depart daily at 9 am. The Alpin ferry departs daily at 12 noon.
In addition to the ferries, there are also excursion boats for round trips on the reservoir. Smaller boats also bring people and goods to the remote villages in the mountains, which can only be reached by water.
Boarding: The road to the ferry terminal is closed until all vehicles have left the ferry. Meanwhile, all vehicles wishing to board the ferry are collected at the bottom of the large parking lot in front of the barrier. On the forecourt in front of the pier, the vehicle must then be turned around and driven backwards onto the ferry. Several experienced guides will help.
What is there to see and do?
- One of the most beautiful river trips in breathtaking scenery through the rocky gorges of the Drin
- Isolated villages
- Continuing into the Valbona Valley: great hiking opportunities on well-marked trails in the Albanian Alps, cave visits and even more secluded villages.
But one thing clouds the sky over paradise and makes clouds come up. Clouds drifting on the water in rainbow colours. Blue plastic bottles, red chip bags or yellow plastic of chocolate bars - just to name a few. Everywhere there, if the current is somewhat calmer, the sins of consumer society accumulate. And they are becoming more and more day by day. Garbage left behind by the visitors and produced by the villages situated on the shore. Meanwhile even garbage boats are supposed to try to fight the plastic garbage. But apparently they don't follow. I strongly hope for the lake that tourism and environmental protection will tackle the problem of plastic waste together in the future and that they will work for a regulated waste disposal from the villages.
Tips for your Roadtrip - with the Ferry across the Koman Lake
Directions to get there: From Skodra via Vau Deja it is about 57 kilometres. By the way: You don't necessarily need your own car to get from Skodra to Valbona. Komani Lake Ferry Berisha offers a pick up service from Tirana, Shkodra and Valbona.
Refuelling: The last filling station is in Vau Deja, about 33 kilometres before Koman.
Drinking Water: You can fill your water tanks for washing and cooking at the gas station in Vau Deja. But I wouldn't drink the water.
Pitches for the Night: At the bridge shortly before Koman there is a small simple camping site, directly at the water. From the street the campsite doesn't look very inviting, but down by the water it is very quiet. There is even a small bar.
To get to the ferry dock, you have to cross a narrow, single-lane tunnel. Before you enter the tunnel there are parking places on the right where you can stand overnight. Because of the lighting they are a bit bright and unromantic.
Down at the jetty itself it is very narrow and only small campers are allowed. In the morning the vehicles must be driven away here before 9 o'clock. Because as soon as the ferry from Fierza arrives here, every square meter of space is needed.
You need camping equipment? Maybe a GPS or new camping chairs? Take a look at Globetrotter*.
Pitches in Valbona: In Valbona you will find free pitches at the end of the asphalted road next to the dry riverbed. If your camper has all-wheel drive, you can also drive in the dry riverbed (use existing lanes) and find a place for the night there.
Book Recommendations for Albania
Do you want to know where the journey is going? Then I can recommend this travel guides* to you.
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Have you ever been on a road trip in Albania? How did you like it and what were your highlights? Do you have any questions about my article? If yes, then write me a comment!
Recommendations for further Reading
Do you love road trips as much as I do? Then you might also be interested in my articles about a Road trip with Lada Niva and roof tent in Georgia or about a Road Trip with Land Rover Series II to Iceland.