Our boat trip on Skadarsko Lake is one of the most memorable things I’ve ever done. Almost a year later, I can still recall the wonderful atmosphere as we boated through the many bends on the section of the lake we travelled through. Lake Skadar itself is a truly unique place, and was nominated for UNESCO world heritage status in 2011.
It is a vast freshwater lake that straddles the borders of Albania and Montenegro, surrounded by dramatic mountains, its still surface perfectly mirroring the skies above.
There is a huge amount of biodiversity here, with over 260 species of birds. Along its banks, there are also many small fishing villages that have been around for centuries, and a few monasteries.
Many Montenegrins regard Skardarsko Lake as the heart and soul of the country. You’ll know why if you visit – the beauty of this place is inexplicable.
We had found our skipper, Miko, in the charming town of Rijeka Crnojevića, by the river of the same name, which flows into the Skadar Lake. Miko was also, funnily enough, the brother in law of the guy who owns the B&B we were staying in, for the time we were in the area. He was great company for this trip.
For more on Rijeka Crnojevića and the surroundings of the lake, take a look at our post “Retreat on Skadarsko Lake“.
The first part of the lake, the mouth where the river transitions into the lake, is impressive when you’re looking at it from above – with its bends, its sheen, and the many vibrant green hills it winds around. But when you’re down below, right on it, it becomes something different altogether.
We started early, while the morning mist was still floating above the water. This lent the start of the expedition a wonderful sense of mystery. I felt like we were boating through an unexplored land, each hill hiding new sights never seen before, as the mists parted slowly before us.
We cut through willowy reeds, floating fields of water lilies and a few other types of water plants which I don’t know the name of.
It was like sailing through our very own water garden. Many bird species stood on the banks of the lake and floated around in groups, feeding. It was fascinating to watch the diversity of life interacting within this ecosystem.
The lake itself is filled with many types of fish, some of the most populous ones are the pike, perch, trout and carp.
During winter, they are joined by even more birds from around the region and the rest of Europe, but even during this time, at the end of summer, there were plenty of them.
During the boat trip, we stopped at the Kom Monastery, which was built at the beginning of the 14th century on Odrin Hill. This monastery has only one inhabitant, a reclusive Serbian Orthodox monk.
At the gate, there was a beautiful mosaic depicting the Angel Gabriel. It made for a nice stop – a little bit of historical culture hidden in the heart of nature.
As the day wore on, the surface of the lake started to heat up. By now, all the morning mist had dissipated, and the lake took on a different character. Most of the animals had gone to hide in the shade, and the water and air seemed to stand completely still, shimmering in the heat.
It was around mid-afternoon that we entered the lake proper. No longer were we in the small bends of the lake – now a vast body of water opened up before us, stretching out into the horizon, a fresh water sea.
It was a truly magical moment, as we looked out into the distance, thinking about everything – the landscape, the life we had seen since setting out from the charming little town of Rijeka Crnojevića.
We’ve created a compilation of timelapses from a few of the best lookout points in Montenegro. In this collection is a time-lapse of Skadarsko Lake as well.