The Lake Komani Ferry

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September, 2019

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According to the Bradt guide to Albania, the journey along Lake Komani should be viewed as one of the world’s classic boat trips, comparable to the Norwegian fjords and the ferry from Puerto Montt to Puerto Natales in Chile.

The distance between Shkodra, where we’d stayed at the dreadful Hotel Carmen, to our starting point, Komani, was only 43 km, but took nearly two hours. We saw a sign saying 32km, and thought we’d be arriving early for the 9am ferry, but then we hit the narrow lake road which made passing slow traffic difficult. The subsequent unmade road made the going even slower. However, the pace allowed us to take in the beautiful lake and mountain scenery.

We arrived at Komani (which is the end of the road) at 8.30am and got out so our driver could reverse the car onto the Berisha Ferry. This takes around 10 cars, depending on size, plus foot passengers. Having got on, the weather clouded over and the wind began blowing, so we rescued our fleeces from the boot. Thankfully, there was just room to open it as the ferry was full.

There was seating inside, but we were there for the scenery and although there was a top deck, we originally chose a long bench running down one side of the lower deck. I then spied a bench at what we later discovered was the back of the ferry, just enough for three. We thought it would be quieter and would allow us to see both sides.

We set off on schedule at 9am, noticing an incredibly straight, thick, white band along the rockface significantly above the water level. The top of it is the height during the rainy season. The scenery was magnificent with high, rocky mountains showing various coloured strata and forest clad hills. Occasionally, a remote, isolated house could be seen. It was a photographers’ paradise and we clicked away.

As the trip wore on, the sun came out, and fleeces came off. Nearing our destination, we began to see small tourist boats and hardy kayakers with more buildings appearing on the banks. We arrived at 11am in Fierze where on the landside were taxis and minibuses waiting for foot passengers and a few optimistic hawkers, but little else.

Helen Jackson

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