Why Lake Koman, Albania is a Must Visit

Lake Koman is a long and narrow hydroelectric reservoir located in the north of Albania. This Albanian lake is described as ” the fjord of the Land of Eagles ” for the beauty of the stretch of water, which winds its way through the mountains.

I’ve never seen the Norwegian fjords so I can’t make comparisons but I know that Lake Koman is certainly one of the things to see in Albania , at least if you plan to include the north of the country on your trip. The peculiarity of this lake, however, lies not only in its beauty and not even in the fact that, by navigating its waters from Koman to Fierza, you reach the Valbona National Park (another destination to be included among the things to see in Albania!).

The particularity of Lake Koman, I said, also lies in its history and in what it means and has meant for the people who live here. For this reason, as well as for its beauty it is worth inserting it in an itinerary in northern Albania to visit a less popular but still beautiful area.

NOTE : Here are our tips for visiting this Albanian lake, just click on the titles to go to the section of your interest. However, if you are thinking about a holiday, we recommend that you buy a paper guide to better organize your trip to the Land of Eagles. This guide is organized with several itineraries, including one in the north ( to find out more, follow the link )Buy the Albania guide on Amazon

  1. The history of Lake Koman
  2. The Island of Peace
  3. What to see at Koman lake
  4. How to organize a visit to Koman
  5. How to reach the pier Koman
  6. Where to sleep
  7. One day tour to Koman
  8. What to see near Koman Lake
  9. Sore Notes: pollution of Lake Koman
[cml_media_alt id = '6582'] Koman Lake - A fisherman who lives on the shores of the Lake [/ cml_media_alt]
Koman Lake – A fisherman who lives on the shores of the lake

The history of Lake Koman in Northern Albania

This lake of northern Albania has existed only since 1983 , it is in fact an artificial basin wanted by the dictator Hoxha to enhance the electricity production of Albania and make it autonomous. Once the dam was completed it took two years to fill Lake  Koman but from that day the face of this valley has completely changed and with it the lives of the people who lived here.

In fact, imagine if one day the valley where you live and where a river flows surrounded by high mountains were completely submerged.

I know, it is certainly not something new, it has happened in many parts of the world and also in Italy. What was perhaps different here is that it happened in a period of dictatorship. No protests by environmentalists therefore no “fair compensation” for those who built their lives along that river, here people simply ran away, leaving their valley and going towards Shkodra. Who could obvious, the others stayed climbing the mountain sides and building a new life there.

[cml_media_alt id = '6584'] Koman Lake - Boarding from the Koman Dam [/ cml_media_alt]
Koman Lake – Boarding from the Koman Dam

The inhabitants of Lake Koman, the Kanun and the island of Peace

Yes, because among these mountains, which appear to be the uncontaminated kingdom of nature, inhabited by wolves, jackals and deer, there are also small human settlements. Few people, more or less a thousand, ancient families, people accustomed to the hard life of the mountains who have to walk a few kilometers to get to the first paved road, people who do not have a motorcycle or a car because they would have nowhere to use it. On the other hand, some of those who live here have a boat with which to sail the waters of Lake Koman and invent a new life.

The boats, moored along the shores of Lake Koman, make it clear that here, besides nature, there are also men. It is the boats that testify to this, because in the three hours of navigation while the ferry slowly crosses the waters of the lake, you can hardly see any houses. However, some small boats meet, few in truth, because to have a boat you have to be rich and not everyone can afford it. When they explained it to us, we asked incredibly: “ What about the others? “. We were told that the others ask for help from those who have a boat and give them a lift.

The law of mutual aid is in force in these mountains , together with the Kanun, the ancient code of “blood revenge” still in use in northern Albania. So those who have more help those in difficulty and conflicts are resolved on the Isle of Peace, the only island encountered during the crossing to Fierza. It is said that it is there on the island, in the shadow of that cross, that disputes are resolved and blood feuds averted. So when, passing by the island, you ask yourself if it is really a rainbow that you see sprouting from the earth, made of curved and multicolored irons, the answer is yes, a rainbow symbol of peace and of the island.

NOTE : The Kanun is the ancient Albanian law, a code of conduct that has the roots of the Middle Ages and that has marked the territory and its people. Although the government has tried in every way to eliminate it (currently denying the episodes of blood feuds), the North is the place where the Kanun, with it also the forced self-exclusions of entire families.

[cml_media_alt id = '6586'] Koman Lake - The lake from the boat [/ cml_media_alt]
Koman Lake – The lake from the boat

Why see Lake Koman in Northern Albania

Lake Koman is another face of the Land of Eagles , an almost obligatory stop during a trip to Albania even if, after drinking a coffee in one of the elegant bars in Durres , you may feel like you have been catapulted into another universe. Starting from the journey to reach the pier, since Koman is reached after two hours by car, on a road made of holes and curves and after crossing what you will have thought of as a mine …

Yet Komani is always Albania, ” the real Albania ” as someone told us , that of traditions and stubbornness, that of those who live there and invent their life, changing their skin, like the families here, who from one day to the others have found themselves becoming “water people” and are now building a new life based on tourism.

So if you have time and if you are fascinated by stories as well as by the majesty of nature, include this lake among the things to do in Albania. If you want to understand this area of ​​the country better, we recommend the book “ The Kanun of Skanderbeg “. And of course our guide!Buy the Albania guide on Amazon

[cml_media_alt id = '6589'] Koman Lake - Ferry passengers [/ cml_media_alt]
Koman Lake – Passengers on the ferry

See Koman Lake: how to organize the visit

Visit Koman Lake by ferry

There are many ways to visit Koman Lake. The first and also the cheapest is the ferry , which crosses its waters from Koman to Fierza every day. Three companies cross the waters of the lake, we used the Berisha ferry, which also allows the transport of cars and leaves from Koman at 9 and from Fierza at 13.00 (but check the official Komani Lake Ferry Berisha website ).

What I recommend is to arrive in Fierza and from there continue to Valbona , to stay there at least one night.

Individual tours on Koman Lake

Another possibility is to book an individual tour that will take you along a piece of Koman Lake , perhaps stopping for a swim and a snack.

To reach the Koman pier if you do not have a car or prefer not to drive, you can book the transfer from Shkodra or even from Tirana to Koman with the company that manages the ferries, then from Fierza you will find minibuses that will take you to Valbona. Berisha Koman lake also organizes this kind of transportation from Shkodra.

Group day tour on Lake Koman

If you do not have enough time to dedicate a few days to trekking between Valbona and Teth, it is worth taking one of the organized group tours that allow you to discover Lake Koman in a day. Komani Berisha Ferry Lake tours take place with the Dragobia boat and also include lunch and a visit to the Shala River. Check directly on the official website because there are several proposals (also by kayak) departing from Tirana or Shkodra.

Board the car on the ferry

If, on the other hand, you have a car, you can go around independently and maybe return to Shkodra via Kosovo, this is also a tip given to us by our travel companions. In this case, however, you should book the transfer on the ferry because there is no guarantee that there is room (and then because in this way, if you delay a bit, they will probably wait for you! 😉)

Finally, know that Fierza can also be reached from land , climbing towards Valbona da Kukes.

Note : The ticket for the Koman ferry can be bought after the tunnel. It seems trivial but it is not! First there are some sellers but if you have already booked go through the gallery, you can buy it directly from the guys on your boat.

How to get to the Koman landing stage

Koman Lake by car from Shkodra

We arrived at the Koman pier by car starting from Shkodra (Shkodra in Italian). It took us almost two hours of a road that in the last twenty kilometers is in really bad condition , full of holes – or should I say lacking asphalt – but full of curves. Just before arriving at the landing stage you will encounter a tunnel dug into the rock, pass it and you will arrive.

If you decide not to embark your car you will have to leave it at the landing stage , they will charge you for parking depending on your stay (about 2 euros per day, but the figures may change). However, remember that if you want to board the car it is better to book in advance because there may not be room. At the “parking” you will also find a couple of bars and a kind of shop if you want to buy some supplies for the trip, but keep in mind that for example on the ferry we took there was a bar that sold drinks and chips.

Koman Lake by bus from Shkodra

If you do not have a car to go to the Koman pier you will have to take one of the vans at 6.30 leaving from the center of Shkodra. The journey takes more than two hours, between winding and often unpaved roads but the last stop is the boarding of the ferries on Lake Koman. Between 9 and 9.30 every morning there are several: you get on the boat and pay on the way.

From Koman to Valbona

From much of Fierze you can continue towards Valbona to go trekking or enjoy nature.

What to see around Koman Lake

Most tourists choose to cross Lake Koman and then stop for a few days in Valbona, perhaps taking the opportunity to go on excursions in the area. For enthusiasts, a very popular trek is from Valbona to Thethi (only for trained physicists as it is 8 hours of walking!)

Then of course there is Shkodra which is not only a starting point to get to the pier but also a very beautiful city to visit, with its castle, museums and lake, if you are interested in knowing our experience you can simply follow the link.Buy the Albania guide on Amazon

Where to sleep to see Koman Lake

If you plan to take a day trip you can sleep in Shkodra , starting early in the morning. Among the places to sleep I would like to point out two: the first is a glamping on Lake Shkodra called Shkodra Lake Resort which in addition to the campsite also offers some wooden bungalows and tents with real beds that have made our child happy, have lunch and a hammock to relax on at sunset. The campsite is beautiful, the toilets are very clean and there are many activities to do on the lake, from swimming to canoeing. The restaurant also serves excellent food at low prices and if you want they also organize excursions in the surrounding area. The second is a guesthouse in the center (Our Way Guesthouse ) which consists of two structures: a hostel and a guesthouse with private rooms. It is a brand new, clean, very well furnished, with a large garden, common dining room, washing machine and games for children. Breakfast is also served which is plentiful and excellent.

Koman Lake - The characteristic Albanian barns
Koman Lake – The characteristic Albanian barns

Pollution on the Komani lake

The only sore point on this lake , for me a stab in the heart if you think about the surrounding context, are the bottles. You read that right, bottles that also sail among the placid waters of Lake Koman. I don’t know where they come from, someone told us from Kosovo, they certainly make us understand how strong the impact of man (and perhaps also of us tourists?) On nature and the environment in general can be.

Our advice on how to visit Lake Koman in Northern Albania ends here but if you liked this post, share it and comment.

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