Due to a busy travel schedule on my road trip through the Balkan countries I only had two days in Albania. Looking for things to do I found a 2 day hike from Valbona to Theth through the mountains which looked great. But how to get there from Shkoder? The best way… take the Komani Lake Ferry from Koman to Fierze!
After 3 days in the mountains in Montenegro with not that much luck with the weather I didn’t feel like another trekking. Cancelling the hiking trip from Valbona to Theth was a bit of a bummer but researching made me stumble upon a spectacular ferry from Koman to Fierze. According to some publications this was the most beautiful boat trip in Europe. Have you ever heard of the fjords of Albania? No right? I think very few people have so another reason for me to check it out and tell you all you need to know about it.
Komani Lake Ferry
First of all let me educate you that Lake Komani actually is an artificial lake. This utterly stunning body of water is created by two dams, one in Fierze and one in Koman. In and between the Komani Lake is formed and creates one of the most incredible landscapes in Europe. From Koman to Fierze there is a ferry line originally created to transport locals from one side to another. Nowadays this popular ferry line is also discovered by tourists traveling from Shkoder to Valbona or travelers like me who just come to admire the breathtaking views along the way.
Boat trip from Koman to Fierze
When I did some research about this boat trip I found out that this initially was not meant to be a tourist attraction but over the years became a popular thing to do. The ride through the fjords of Albania is not just a regular ferry to get from Koman to Fierze or vice versa, to me it is a boat trip that rivals many river cruises in Europe. Because the boats that take the trip are not equipped for tourists but originally are car ferries this is not a standard trip, but one for those travelers that are looking to go off the beaten path in Albania.
If you are looking for a great adventure and love breathtaking landscapes, narrow gorges, green hills and serenity then consider the Komani Lake Ferry from Koman to Fierze!
As I was not heading into the direction of Kosovo I decided to take a return trip Koman - Fierze - Koman. This way I saved paying for the car which can easily be around $40 one-way. In Koman you can leave your car at the designated car park before the tunnel. Come early if you want to secure a spot in peak season.
When to visit the Komani Lake
The Komani Lake car ferry runs daily between April and October. The best time to visit the Komani Lake is in the pleasant but more quiet months May, June and September. In the peak season July & August the ferry will be packed and obviously less enjoyable. I traveled from Koman to Fierze and back mid June and had mixed experiences, all good but different.
The early morning ferry from Koman to Fierze was packed with cars and probably over 150 passengers.
Saturday morning on the Berisha Ferry from Koman to Fierze: loads of backpackers. Great to meet other travelers!
The views stay the same, but when I traveled back from Fierze to Koman in the afternoon, there were less than 30 people on the boat and the ferry ride was so much more enjoyable.
Ok, I admit the beautiful weather on the way from Fierze to Koman played a huge role too.
There are also ferries that run in the off-season between November and March, but this time of year there are no car ferries, just passenger boats. They do take bicycles!
How to get to the Komani Lake Ferry terminal
From Schoder to Koman in Albania
The road to get to Koman from Shkoder was challenging and I was lucky I was on my way with a brand new Peugeot 5008. The roads in Albania are not the best in general but this deserted road through the mountains had not been maintained ever since it was constructed. Especially the last 20 kilometers I had to drive slowly and the last 5 kilometers were pretty challenging. I was proud my Peugeot made this trip a fun one, but I saw smaller cars really struggling. The road though is really scenic!
I was happy my Peugeot got me through this!
Getting to Fierze from Kosovo
If you are coming from the other side you probably coming from Kosovo. Make your way down to Bajram Curri first and then catch a taxi to the Komani Lake ferry terminal in Fierze. From Prizren in Kosovo there are daily mini busses crossing the border into Bajram Curri, Albania. A taxi to Fierze from here should not cost more than 300 Lek ($4).
Where to stay in Koman
If you search the internet for Koman accommodation options you will soon find out that there ishardly anything around. Koman is not your standard village there is basically nothing. What I did find was Natural Camping and Hotel. While driving from Shkoder to Koman over the deserted mountain road I already figured Koman would be a tiny place. There were only a couple houses, and it was easy to find Koman Natura Hotel & Camping. The owner was the most lovely old man being extremely friendly and helpful. Camping was €7 only and a basic hotel room a couple euros more.
I chose to put up my tent at the Koman Natura Camp Ground. I ate dinner here, had a couple beers, lots of good coffees, breakfast in the morning and the owner even dropped me at the Koman Ferry Terminal (5 minute drive). When I returned the next day, packed up my tent and asked for the bill it was a total of €13 for everything! You gotta love traveling in Albania.
Things to know when taking the boat ride from Koman to Fierze
Now some practical info about the Komani Lake Ferry.
- The boat ride takes around 2,5 to 3 hours.
- The big car ferries have an inside seating as well.
- The car ferries have upper decks (3 levels) and better views.
- They sell food & drinks on board (good coffee).
- There are different boat companies.
- They have different timetables.
- Morning rides can be pretty chilly so bring a jumper.
- Great way to meet travelers in high season, loads of backpackers on board.
- The ferry from Koman to Fierze is part of a typical backpacking trail: Shkoder - Koman - Fierze Valbona - Theth - Shkoder.
- Take the Berisha ferry to meet other backpackers.
- Morning ferries are busier than the afternoon ferries.
- Tuesdays and Wednesdays are the most quiet days.
- Ferry companies have pick up services in Tirana, Shkoder and Valbona.
- When arriving in Koman there is nothing at the ferry terminal in Fierze there is a small joint selling coffee and sandwiches.
This is how the ferry terminal looked when we arrived in Fierze.
Good thing to know about the Lake Komani Ferry trip is that the best passage is the narrow gorge about 30 minutes away from Fierze!
Koman Fierze ferry companies
There are a couple different companies, but through the internet I got in touch with Berisha Komani Lake Ferry and booked a round trip with them. I am pretty sure there was no need to make a reservation, but I still did through whataspp. I simply wanted to secure my spot, even though I did not bring a car. When you travel with a car, definitely make a reservation.
Berisha Komani Lake Ferry
I reckon Berisha is the most popular company as they are the ones that popped up on Google first when searching for boat trip from Fierze to Koman. When I arrived in the early morning I saw the outcome of this. The Berisha ferry was completely full and this was only mid June. It was Saturday morning though, but not even peak season. The morning boat trip took a little over 2 hours and even though it was packed there were enough opportunities to take photos. If you want to meet travelers for your trekking from Valbona to Theth then I would recommend you the Berisha ferry.
Berisha also has a passenger boat only, a way smaller boat that operates in the early morning. Definitely a more local experience, but harder if you want to take some cool pictures. This kind of long-tail boat has no upper deck and views are different.
On board the Berisha Ferry, extremely friendly guys, a family company.
Here is the Berisha Lake Komani ferry timetable.
Berisha Ferry prices according to website:
- Passengers: €5
- Bicycles: €10
- Motorbikes: €20
- Vehicles: €5 per m2
Note: when I paid at the boat it was 1400 Lek for a return ticket (€11.50)! Slightly different than on their website!
For more info have a look at the Berisha Ferry website.
Another company is Rozafa. They also operate a daily ferry from Koman to Fierze and vice versa. When I left on the Berisha ferry the Rozafa ferry left around the same time. They were significantly slower and smaller, but less crowded. They had an open rooftop. Great for pictures, extremely hot in summer.
Here is the Rozafa ferry timetable.
Rozafa Ferry prices:
- Passengers: €5
- Bicycles: €5
- Motorbikes: €20
- Car: €30
- Motorhomes: €40
The Alpin ferry service looks like a more upscale ferry. They operate their services from Fierze and have an opposite schedule than Berisha and Rozafa. The Alpin ferry looks pretty nice on pictures. They have an outdoor seating deck with seats and tables and a pretty slick interior with a bar. Alpin can take up to 250 people, 60 cars and is faster: 2-hour trip.
Alpin ferry timetable:
Fierze - Koman: 9.00 - 11.00
Koman - Fierze: 12.00 - 14.00
Alpin ferry prices:
- Passengers: €8
- Bicycles: €8
- Motorhome €35
- Motorbikes & cars: €23
Tours on Lake Komani
It is also possible to take a Lake Komani tour rather then taking the ferry. There are stops along the way at local settlements. You will enjoy a local lunch with obviously fresh fish from the lake.
Tours will be operated in the smaller boats and you won’t need to take the complete ferry trip! The trip including hiking to a viewpoint, kayaking and lunch is about the double the price as a return trip on the ferry. Looking back I am still happy I took the ferry.
During my journey on Komani Lake I was able to create great content from the upper deck rather than on a small boat. On top of that I met great people, shared travel stories, sat back and relaxed, was not bored a single moment and simply enjoyed the ferry gliding through this spectacular landscape!
Off the beaten path in Albania
During the morning trip from Koman to Fierze, the grey skies gave the boat trip a dramatic feel. It was packed on the Berisha ferry and I made friends and exchanged travel stories with fellow travelers. I had an amazing trip although I had to stand all the way. Traveling through the gorge still was a beautiful thing to do.
That said I totally cheered up on my trip from Fierze to Koman in the afternoon. There were only a few people on board, which obviously made the ferry trip a super laid-back boat ride. But the most welcoming thing was the sun and blue skies! The green karst mountains looked even more impressive and I had a feeling I could be on a boat trip in Thailand or Vietnam. Was this Europe? Why did I not hear about this journey before?
When you are traveling in Albania definitely add this journey to your Balkan itinerary!
Thank you for reading my travel blog. I hope this article helped you planning your trip. Please leave me a comment or share this article on any social media as a thank you. A small thing for you, which can make a big difference for me. Massive thanks…
Visiting Lake Komani was just one of the multiple adventures I had on my Balkan road trip. Furthermore I slept in the mountains in Kosovo, visited the Uvac Canyon in Serbia, spent a week on a road trip in Bosnia, climbed a mountain in Montenegro and got lost in Matka Canyon in Skopje.
If you are traveling up North along the coast then make a detour into Bosnia and visit the Kravice Falls. Simply spectacular and a great day trip from Dubrovnik, Croatia.