Starting the trip along the river

Komani Lake

Although the coastline in Albania was beautiful and I really enjoyed my time there, I was looking forward to seeing some of the Albanian mountains I had heard so much about and that’s when I started leaving the sea behind and heading inland towards the Komani Lake. 

The Komani Lake is an artificial reservoir resulted after the building of a dam on the Drin river which was completely filled with water in 1986. The unique thing about this reservoir is that a ferry service runs along most of the lake through beautiful canyons. Before doing this section I had done quite a bit of research and although it looked like in the previous years the ferry over the lakes had become only a passenger ferry, I was happy to read that starting this year the car ferries were back in business which meant I could take the car with me on the river and then come back from the mountains using a different route.

The road from Tirana to the small village of Koman (the starting point for the ferry) was fairly easy and uneventful, although a bit busy. I got there in a couple of hours and as soon as the road started climbing, the landscape changed and the forests got thicker and thicker. I stopped to buy a few things at a village on the way, since I knew I will be camping and I wanted to be prepared and have some food with me in case I couldn’t have dinner in Koman.

Buying some fresh cheese from a local producer
Buying some fresh cheese from a local producer

I got there around 3pm and after stopping for a home made goulash at a local guesthouse I made my way up towards the dam to check the timings for the ferry and see if I can get a ticket. The guys there were very helpful and although the price was a bit steep for the 3 hour trip (50 Euros), they told me that if I wanted I could just open the tent on the ferry and sleep there instead of paying at the camping ground in the village. I agreed and said I will return before sunset once I have explored the area.

I headed back down towards the village and took a side dirt track that led me right by the river where I spent a couple of hours doing nothing but enjoying the sunshine.

Relaxing by the lake
Relaxing by the lake

Around 6pm I got back to the ferry, loaded the car and prepared the tent for the evening. There was another Polish couple with a car and a Polish guy with a motorbike who were sleeping on the deck, but I think I had the most comfortable sleep as it got quite cold during the night and I was happy to have a tent over my head.

Camping on the ferry
Camping on the ferry

At 9am the next morning, the ferry ride finally started and it was every bit as spectacular as I had heard. It’s only 3 hours long, but the landscape changes dramatically every 30 minutes or so as mountains appear from behind bends in the river and then quickly disappear as you move further upstream.

The river trip is spectacular
The river trip is spectacular

Once I got off the ferry, I continued with a short drive towards the village of Valbonë, which sits right at the foot of the tall mountains that separate Albania and Kosovo.

Parked at the foot of the mountains
Parked at the foot of the mountains

After I had lunch there, I decided to drive back towards Shkodra, as there was one more part of the Albanian mountains I wanted to explore over the next couple of days.

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Catalin

I am a corporate photographer based in Dubai, UAE, specializing in architectural and interior photography as well as corporate, environmental portraits and lifestyle images.

2 thoughts on “Komani Lake”

  1. Hi. Following your blog with great interest since I am basically following your tracks, 3 weeks roughly behind you. Two questions; 1. Did you take the road above Masuleh? (You mentioned it was more like a track but I have been told it is OK for a motorcycle) 2. What is your view on the security in Van, Tatvan, Malatya area? Kars area seems to get worse and I would prefer middle Turkey

    1. Hey! Yes we went on the road that carries on above Masuleh. It’s a very slow road after a while (even for a 4×4) and it took a really long time to actually get back towards Tabriz. We ended up joining the main road after a while as the road turned into a small track and it was just taking too long. You can probably do it on a bike but leave early morning from Masuleh.

      There was no issue towards us in Kars, Van or Tatvan. We didn’t drive at night and in general we didn’t really go around too much at night (with the exception of Van where we had some dinner on the lake). To be honest middle Turkey was actually worse as in a couple of towns there were attacks against the police – close to Erzurum. So I wouldn’t bother too much as long as you travel during the day and not camp in the middle of nowhere. Try to stay in hotels in that area.

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