‘The police wave us off like old friends’: cross-border kayaking from Montenegro to Albania

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A six-day water-borne adventure takes paddlers through the Balkans to the Adriatic coast, with camping and homestays along the way

“Hello, over there in Albania!”, my kayaking guide Gigo shouts across the water as he paddles along effortlessly. He doesn’t really need to shout, because although we’re in Montenegro, we’re only a few metres away from the Albanians. We’re on the Buna (Bunë) River, a 40km stretch of water which divides the countries and is so tranquil that every sound is amplified, from the dip of our paddles to the rousing tones of the Muslim call to prayer.

I’m on a six-day kayaking adventure, following a 70km route that crisscrosses the border. Starting in Lake Skadar (Liqeni i Shkodrës), which spans both countries and is the largest lake on the Balkan peninsula, at about 400sq km, our aquatic odyssey traces the Montenegrin side of the lake, crosses to its Albanian shores and then follows the Buna all the way to the Adriatic. With a mix of wild camping, homestays and waterfront cabins, it’s the kick out of my urban cocoon that I have long craved.

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