Lake Komani was formed when the River Drin was dammed in 1970 as part of a huge hydroelectric scheme. It winds, fjord-like, from the huge Vau i Dejax dam near Shkodra to the Fierza Dam. The memorable ferry ride is the best way to reach the remote and spectacular Tropoja region - the road is dreadful. From Tirana a minibus leaves to link with the RORO ferry and continues to Bajram Curri from Bregluna at the Fierza end; the return trip leaves early next day.
Another ferry plying the waters is the local waterbus, a ramshackle-looking craft created by welding an old bus onto a hull. This takes about four hours - twice as long as the car ferry - but it provides links for the remote dwellings of the lake and offers a unique insight into the life of the area. A night in Shkodra (old Scutari) makes catching this early ferry bus possible. This interesting old city was, under Ottoman rule, the largest town in Albania; it is still predominantly Muslim, and very traditional.
The road to the ferry station - about 35 km (22 mi) follows the river valley and passes through a narrow tunnel. The ferry journey is superb, following the twists and turns of the lake whose deep, still, jade-green waters reflect the precipitous tree-clad gorges. In places the deciduous woods have been cleared, the ground terraced to allow those whose homes are clustered high above the lake to scratch a living. Bajram Curd is a windy, ugly little town set in magnificent scenery. Named after a key figure in the liberation of Albania from Ottoman rule, it is a good base for exploring the huge lakes and towering mountains of this otherwise inaccessible area.
WHEN TO GO
June to September
TIME IT TAKES
At least two days
Shkodra - Rozafa Castle, a medieval Venetian fortress high above the confluence of three rivers.
The Phototheque a selection of photographs from a huge 19th century archive, a unique record of Northern Albania.
An easy trip from Bajram Curri is to lovely valbona valley with its plunging waterfalls.
YOU SHOULD KNOW
Catering on the ferry is rudimentary.
The tunnel to the ferry is unlit, mud-roofed and often flooded.