Entering Albania is not a big deal. They do not ask for a PCR test and do not even care if we have a valid car insurance.

Anyway, we have no idea where to go in Albania so we decide to go to the North. From Shkoder we take the worst road we had until now to Koman. Koman is a small village located at a very important dam. It is said that the dam provides 90% of the power of Albania. Not sure if that’s right but it is guarded by many many government officials. 

We get there too late, or way too early depending how you see it. Anyway, the boat will leave at 9 the next day and it’s now 14:00. We don’t mind, we have time to relax and get to know some of the locals.

One is Mario Molla, the CEO of the lake as he calls himself. A very interesting figure with lots of stories. Not the most kind towards the Turks who apparently wanted to invade this area of Albania but never could due to the local resistance. We also get to know our captain and chef for the next day.

Komani lake

It’s more like a river to us but here they call it a lake, Komani lake. A beautiful lake / river that flows from Komani to Fierze. We see incredible cliffs, beautiful green mountains and even some villages. The villages along the lake do everything via the water. There are no roads so they are quite isolated. 

Komani Lake was created as a side effect of a hydroelectric power plant complex which was build in the region. Like I wrote before, the electricity produced by it covers about 90% of the electricity demand in Albania, very impressive. Komani Lake runs between the mountains for 72 kilometres. Because of its length, on the map it looks more like a river. The sun is shining and the view is so beautiful that the 2.5 hours it takes to reach the end are over without noticing. 

Valbone NP

We drive to Bajram Curry for lunch and grocery shopping and continue to Valbone NP. The day before we met two Swiss people and one Austrian man and here in Valbone we happen to meet again at the campsite, what a coincidence. We have diner together and try out some local dishes and wine. The dish is great, the wine not so great. But we have fun. And while we head back we see all these moving satellites that apparently everyone has seen these nights. Not sure what Elon Musk is doing but I hope the satellites turn off their lights quick. Feels a bit like star pollution. 

Back to earth! Valbone is a beautiful valley with impressive mountains surrounding it. Feels like a valley in the Alps. 

Hiking in Valbone

There are some nice hikes in this NP, one goes to Theth. Apparently that’s one of the nicest places of the North. A hike from here to Theth is 12km’s and takes about 7 hours. But winter is long, thus the pathway is closed due to the amount of snow.

Then there are shorter hikes. Like the one to the waterfall which takes about 1-2 hours. We wake up early and together with Roman (from Austria) we hike to the waterfall. It’s a nice hike, through the ice cold water, along the river side and over some fallen trees. The mountain range surrounding the valley are amazing and impressive!

We couldn’t get all the way to the waterfall as there was a lot of snow there so we decided to head back. Here we meet Max, a guy from The Hague. Actually his parents live about 250 meters from our home. What are the odds? 

Max is hitchhiking, hiking and taking local transport to Tokyo. He is on the road now for eight months and has a lot of stories to tell. So we invite him to the campsite and Roman will give him a lift to a city south of here tomorrow. 

Maffia wedding 

When we get back the area isn’t as quiet as we left it in the morning. Many expensive cars have parked everywhere. Lots of Mercedes with license plates from Western European countries. A wedding is being held at a hotel / restaurant and the whole valley seems to be booked. A big family? We walk back to the campsite and everywhere are people with expensive cars, clothing and sunglasses. Could be maffia, of which Albania is known for. Maybe not but it surely feels like it. We see kids driving fast cars, girls in very expensive dresses and the older man acting like Robert de Niro in The Irishman. But, like I wrote before; it’s just a suspicion… 

At the campsite we make a big fire, drink beer, eat cookies and tell a lot of stories. This is why travelling is so much fun. You meet people, hear stories and get to explore amazing places. 

Up to our next adventure. We will go to South Albania but not before visiting my friend in Macedonia! 

Love, Milene & Yuri