Komani Lake DIY – how to cross it with a car ferry
Komani Lake was created as a side effect of a hydroelectric power plant complex which was build in the region. Apparently, the electricity produced by it covers about 90% of the electricity demand in Albania, which is pretty impressive. Meanwhile, this place in no way reminds of an artificial lake created by human beings but rather impresses with its wildness. It looks like if tones of blue water were trapped in the valley between high peaks, which enrapture with green hillsides and grey and rocky peaks. Komani Lake runs between the mountains for 72 kilometres. Because of its length, on the map it looks more like a river. The flooding of the area, as well as non-existing or very basic road infrastructure made it necessary to create a ferry service on the lake. That’s why today it is not only a tourist attraction, but also a means of transport for the inhabitants of houses with difficult access.
How to get to Komani Lake?
From Shkoder to Valbone through Komani Lake
Komani Lake is located somewhere between Shkoder and Valbone. If you plan to go to the Albanian Alps (I wrote albout them here) choosing the rout through Komani Lake will be a very good choice. Thanks to that you will replace at least a half of a hard several-hours road through the mountains for a pleasant ferry cruise. From Shkoder it is only 55 km to Komani Lake Ferry terminal where the journey starts. The last part of the road is very mountainous and it was by far the worst road we were driving in Albania. Of course you can expect there countless sharp bends, narrow roads, boulders lying on the road and herds of cows or goats crossing the road. But the surface condition is definitely the worst part. It is covered with thousands of holes and from time to time there is suddenly no asphalt. The bad condition of this road was why we had change two tires for new one in our rented car. Also, in such conditions even people who are unlikely to suffer from it get carsickness. Fortunately, the breath-taking views were slightly distracting our attention from the nausea and improved passengers’ mood.
The tunnel and ferry terminal
At the end there is a very narrow road which goes through a tunnel and leads to the Komani Lake Ferry terminal. Only one car fits inside. When you go out of the tunnel the ferry terminal is just right in front of you. It’s actually a small patch of land placed between the water and the rock wall. There is very little space and only a few cars can fit there. This causes of course a lot of chaos. That’s why it’s definitely better to get there ahead of time – especially if you aren’t going to Valbone and you want to leave your car in the parking lot to pick it up on the same day.
HOW TO CROSS THE KOMANI LAKE?
Because of the beautiful views, the ferry crossing became a touristic attraction. That is why more and more companies are offering here their services. You can not only buy a ferry ticket, but also entire organized (even few days) trips with transport, food and accommodation at local homes. If you’re traveling by car, it’s best to cross the lake on your own. There are several companies that you can choose from. We decided for the Rozafa ferry. This company’s ferry leaves daily around 9:00 a.m. from the Komani Lake Ferry terminal and goes to Fierza Ferry Terminal. It returns at 13:00. However, you can not rely on the punctuality of the ferries. We were late about 20 minutes and the ferry was still at the terminal (thankfully). It left around 9:40 am.
Price for ferry on Komani Lake
In general, we were very pleased with the service and quality of the service, but unfortunately we were disappointed by the price. After parking the car on the ferry, it turned out that the prices we found in internet were not valid anymore. Instead of EUR 40 / bus they wanted EUR 70 form us for the car. Despite our dissatisfaction and bargaining in search of a compromise, the crew was adamant about the price. They even suggested in a very friendly way that if we don’t want to pay we should leave the ferry. Of course they knew that we had no choice but to go with them. However, at the end they gave us a little discount. Additionally you had also to pay a small fee per person (5EUR).
Boarding the car ferry
Boarding the ferry on Komani Lake with a car isn’t easy. As mentioned before the ferry terminal is very small. Nevertheless, you have to somehow turn back on a very small and crowded piece of land and reverse between an abyss and parked cars to board the ferry. Additionally you will have to drive on narrow metal footbridges connecting the land with the boat. If this task exceeds your capabilities, ask the service for help – they board the ferry with cars of customers almost with closed eyes.
Another challenge will wait for you at the end of the cruise. The Fierza Ferry Terminal is simply a piece of dirt road leading straight to the lake. The ferry has a special footbridge, which makes it possible for cars to leave the ferry, however, to make it possible, a few staff members must first level uneven spots on the road with shovels. The exit is also very steep and there is no place to speed up in order to drive to the top, so it’s easy to bury the wheels in soft ground. Of course, also in this case friendly Albanians will hurry with help. Next to the ferry terminal in Fierze there is a building which includes a restaurant. You can wait there for your return ferry or enjoy a break with lake view before heading for Valbone.
Booking in advance
Companies offering ferry service on Komani Lake have boats of various sizes. Some of them can fit only few cars. That is why before our trip to Albania we were in contact with Rozafa Ferry and booked a place by e-mail without paying in advance. We visited Albania early May and during that time there were only two more cars on board, so the booking did not seem to be necessary. However, thanks to the booking the crew knew about our arrival and probably waited for us with the departure (we were 20 minutes late). In the high-season it might be a good idea to book a spot on the ferry for your car in advance.
ON THE FERRY
The Rozafa ferry is very small, but has everything you need. There is a terrace, there are benches and toilets, there is a roofed room with a bar inside, where you can buy something to drink or a snack. From my perspective these were the perfect conditions to admire the beautiful scenery for 2.5 hours. Sometimes there are also small settlements very close to the water. Thanks to their wooden facades they look like being frozen in time.
Sometimes you can see small houses on the hills in the far distance, or people with donkeys and small horses who collect stones or wood next to the riverbank. From time to time, beautiful waterfalls emerge from behind steep slopes. In May young green trees contrast strongly with the turquoise water and the clear blue sky. If the weather is good, it is worth coming to the north of Albania in spring.
In addition, the service on the Rozafa ferry was very nice and open during our cruise. All young person’s spoke at least basic English and were not afraid to use it. So if you want to interact with them, they will gladly start a conversation or answer any questions.