The Koman lake is said to be one of the highlights not to be missed in Albania. Upfront we had read about a car ferry going from one end to another, and planned the trip with this option. As we were not able to find any timetable online, we asked at our hotel in Shkodra before going out for dinner yesterday. It turned out that the car ferry is only running in the summer season. If you are lucky…
However, they thought there was a tourist boat (not taking cars) leaving around 9 in the morning, but could not guarantee that either. The last option was the one we eventually decided to go for; to take our chances that some locals would hang around with their own boat, hoping to earn some money.
Lessons learned (but not really…), the way there of course took us longer than expected. But, I must confess; this time I have to blame myself as well, as I several times stopped to take photos.
The road was not very busy. At least not with cars. On our way we met 13 cars, 7 donkeys, one cow, four pigs and a turtle (!). Cars-animals: 1-1, that is! Or 13-13, if you wish…
As we had wished for, some local boys were waiting with their boat. We decided to make a two-hour trip, and agreed on the price of 5000Leke in total. An elderly local couple was also waiting at the pier, so we brought them with us. They were going to visit some friends living up in one of the mountain farms. After a short while, we let them of by a mountain trail, and they started the steep walk.
The dam holding the lake was built in 1971 for a water power plant. Before that, there was a river running freely, 75-80(!) meters below what is now the water level! Before that year there were about 1000 families living there. Many of their homes were flooded, and only half of the families still live there. The majority of these live at small farms in the mountains along the lakeside. Most of them earn their living by fishing and trading parts of the catch for other goods, as the lake is full of fish. The Chinese that helped build the dam brought fish to breed. This fish is commonly known as the Chinese fish, and are quite large in numbers. There is also trout and other kinds as well.
Some of the farms are situated higher up in the mountains, like the farm the elderly couple was going to, and some will even be hours walk.