The Lower Dover Jungle Lodge and Research Station is unlike any hotel I’ve every stayed in which drives me to dedicate a full post to it. I was originally drawn to this remote but accessible lodge because of the location. I had ventured to the Belizean mainland from the cayes to finally see the ATM cave and since the drive would be much quicker from Lower Dover than by going all the way to San Ignacio for the night I was sold. It also helped that they offer options for every budget. I stayed in the bunkhouse that had a bunk bed and shared bathroom for $15 USD a night but they also had nice cabanas for those looking for more creature comforts in the jungle. What really impressed me with this hotel is that it’s much more than a place to stay.
Much More Than a Simple Hotel
It’s a somewhat undiscovered destination all by itself with multiple types of lodging, 2 rivers with many swimming holes, a full working farm complete with turkeys, chickens, goats, and roosters (can’t miss them first thing in the morning – 5am!), a lush jungle, a large grove of fruit trees, and most amazingly an unexcavated Mayan city.
The owners are American Expats from Wisconsin that bought the 100 acre property back in the 1980s with the hope to create a research station for scientific purposes such as geography or geology.
A Mayan City Was Discovered at Lower Dover
It wasn’t until 15 years later that the family discovered they had a Mayan city hidden in the depths of the property’s jungle. When doing a routine burn to remove some of the downed brush after a storm, the fire got away from them revealing the corner of a large Mayan structure. They always knew there were ruins on the property, as much of Belize is covered by small ruins, but to discover multiple large complexes of buildings was a true surprise.
It takes a bit of imagination to see them but each mound below is a full stone structure that has yet to be excavated.
It also likely surprised the archeological community. Researchers from Harvard originally did a survey of the region and conducted numerous digs based on the belief that the prominent Maya cities would be across the river from where Lower Dover sits. This research and the resulting finds makes up the archeological body of knowledge that is still current today but the discovery of the site at Lower Dover is counter to this research.
The Lower Dover Mayan Ruins Could Be Significant
It is believed that through further excavation, more can be learned about the Maya than ever before as this site has very little evidence of looting, unlike many of the larger sites discovered and excavated in Belize previously. In addition, Lower Dover was still inhabited after the other major Mayan city states had already been abandoned. Learning more about this site could truly answer the question of what happened to the Maya that caused millions of people to abandon the extraordinary cities built and inhabited over hundreds of years.
One of the prevailing theories on what caused the end of the great Mayan civilizations is that intense drought took over the area causing people to move out of these cities. Well Lower Dover is perched on a hill overlooking a large river and close by to a second river so this theory would be unlikely to apply to the city. For the past 3 years, archeological digs have been led by Belize’s lead archeologist Dr. Jaime Awe with groups of American college students and for a price you can come in June or July and participate in the excavation yourself. I’m hoping to join next summer!
Close to the Mayan ATM Cave
So in my 3 days in the jungle, I not only got to see the ATM cave that I was so excited about but I also got a nice surprise finding the Lower Dover Jungle Resort and Field Station. If you are traveling to Belize or even setting out to see Tikal in Guatemala, I recommend a stay at Lower Dover to get a taste of the real Belizean jungle and unexposed history along the way.
Enoy the pictures of the quaint lodge.