After our visit to Albania’s alps in July we left feeling like we hadn’t quite completed our northern Albania to-do list. This, and discovering a fantastic campsite on the shores of Lake Shkodra, persuaded us to return for a week in August.
Lake Shkodra Resort is up there with the best campsites I’ve ever stayed at. Their ‘glamping hotel’ of comfortably furnished teepees makes it very easy to indulge my love of sleeping under canvas while still enjoying a big comfy bed that doesn’t deflate overnight! The site has a fab ‘beach’ and handy restaurant which made it very easy to roll from the tent to the sun lounger to food/beer and back again… bliss.
One of the key remaining items on our to-do list was Lake Komani. The lake is one of three formed on the Drin River by a series of huge dams built in the 1970s to serve hydro-electric power stations. Lake Komani gets all the attention because it weaves between enormous peaks, narrowing to the point where you start to wonder if there’s anywhere for the boat to go. It’s considered one of the world’s great boat rides and provides some truly majestic photo opportunities!
The three-hour trip starts at Komani and runs to the next dam at Fierza. The lake serves as a key transport route for the families that farm the land on the surrounding hills. It must take incredibly fierce souls to live there. When the boat pulled over to drop off and pick up people we could only search the hills to try to find their houses hidden high up through the trees. There are no vehicle accessible roads – only tracks for horses and donkeys. In the winter homes are frequently cut off from the outside world and without the summer tourist boats running, locals brave freezing alpine winds and catch small runabouts to the nearest shops and roads.
After a stop for lunch at Fierza our boat took a detour, heading up a narrow branch of the lake to the Shala River. The water became a glorious turquoise colour and crystal clear. We stopped at a gorgeous bay for traditional Albanian pancakes and an ice-cold swim before returning to the wharf at Komani.
The only blotch on an otherwise perfect Albanian experience was the shameful amount of litter that floated on the still waters of the lake. There were times when the boat had to plough through a sheet of plastic bottles, shoes, polystyrene and other rubbish. It’s not the first time I’ve seen Albania’s spectacular nature ruined by locals dumping rubbish. It’s frustrating that some people seem to have so little regard for the natural beauty of this country.