Western Belize And The Lower Dover Jungle Lodge

Western Belize And The Lower Dover Jungle Lodge
Contributing Writer
| 5 min read

Deep in the Belizean tropical rainforest, you will wake to the exotic sound of the jungle every morning at the friendly, funky Lower Dover Jungle Lodge. The Lodge is the only jungle lodge in this area accessible by bus, and Madeline, the owner, will come and collect guests from the end of the access road as you alight just before the small village of Unitedville on the road to St Ignacio. This lodge is very special because it sits atop a real Mayan ruin and you can have your own private tour by her son, Justin, and imagine what a great city may once have thrived here next to the Mopan River. It’s great base from which to explore the delights of Western Belize and its jungle beauty.

Cabins at Lower Dover Lodge

The blue cabin

There are a number of different cabin options at Lower Dover Lodge. There is a little cottage dorm room with six bunk beds plus a number of other brightly painted cabanas throughout the 100 acre or 40 hectare site here.

The office and library are in a delightful purple hut with a thatched roof and the other accommodations at Lower Dover Lodge are similarly cheerful in hues of red, green, yellow and turquoise. There are cabins available in varying sizes, which can cater for bigger groups of people, friends or families. We had bunk beds with mosquito nets, an en-suite toilet and a ‘sunshine’ shower outdoors, next to our small cabin. The water is heated by the sun but you are welcome to have a wash in the creek instead if you feel so inclined. Water is not treated here, so you need to drink filtered water, which is provided. The rooms are affordable, starting from 15 USD in the low season. Meals are not included.

The garden is full of Bougainvillea and chickens and ducks and guinea fowl come trotting by every now and then. Eight friendly dogs protect the grounds and the guests. You will always find a dog on your porch keeping a lookout just in case.

Things to do around Lower Dover


Lower Dover is a very special place to stay as it situated right on top of the ruins of a once great ancient Mayan city. There is no verified record of its name. The site is extensive and only very partially excavated. Students come every summer to continue the excavation, but there is so much still to be uncovered and so many stories still untold. What happened to this once large and thriving city, which was probably a centre of trade and commerce, and what happened to the people who lived there?

From here you can also get the bus to the Belize Zoo, which is all about conserving the wildlife native to Belize. Also nearby is the amazing Mayan site of Xunantunich, well worth a visit. If you are more the adventurous type, Lower Dover is right next to the famous Belize ATM Cave (Actun Tunichil Muknal Cave). This cave is the most impressive in Belize and the Maya Lowlands. It was a sacred place to the prehistoric Mayas of Belize who began using the entrance during the early classic period (300 – 600 AD). The most famous of the human remains is “The Crystal Maiden”, the skeleton of a teenage girl, probably a sacrifice victim whose bones have been completely covered by the natural processes of the cave.

When you enter the ATM Cave you have to do some swimming and climbing. This is a predominantly wet cave with water levels ranging from ankle to chest height. The cave river system leads you through a labyrinth of dry chambers culminating at the cathedral-like main chamber, which is 350 meters in length, or 1,100 feet and 50 meters or 164 feet in width. In this area you can spend a while admiring the many skeletal remains plus artifacts like pottery and stone tools.

Guides are certified, well-trained and experienced in speleological exploration, jungle survival, bush craft, and are well versed about Belize’s flora and fauna. Each is licensed by the Belize Tourist Board.

Wine tasting at Lower Dover

Swirly Head wine

With your evening meal at Lower Dover you are likely to be served some very special wine made on the premises by Justin, Madeline’s son. Justin proudly showed off his Hibiscus plantation to us on his tour of the estate from which he makes his unique Hibiscus wine, ‘Swirly Head.’ I’ve had some varieties of wine in my time, and with a less than thrilling experience of the Hopkins village banana wine still fresh in the memory, I tasted it with some trepidation. I needn’t have worried — it was absolutely delicious!

Justin started his enterprise in 2012 with his stated mission ‘To save the world from awful hangovers!’ All wines made here are grown entirely organically and use rainwater, Belize sugar and no sulfites in the fermentation process. There is a dry version, a sweet version and a wine made with starfruit too. We purchased a bottle of Justin’s Swirly Head wine for later consumption as a special treat.. We were lucky enough to sample the sparkling version — the world’s first Hibiscus sparkling wine!

The cacao tree was a very valuable crop in ancient Belize. It is still grown today and makes amazing Belizean chocolate — you can buy it from AJAW in the nearby town of St Ignacio. It goes very well indeed with a chilled glass of Vintage Swirly Head wine.

Fun in the jungle at Lower Dover Station and Jungle Lodge

This is not luxury accommodation, but it is an awful lot of fun to stay here, and a great base from which to explore all that West Belize has to offer. Madeline and her husband bought the site at Lower Dover in 1985. They wanted to retire in the sun somewhere that wasn’t Florida or Arizona and so the move to Lower Dover Station and Jungle Lodge happened. Lower Dover is home now.

We rode to the bar in nearby Unitedville in the back of the pick up truck, marvelling at how clear the stars were with the milky way fully visible in the dark sky, when there’s no real light pollution to spoil the view. It was an experience I will always remember, bumping along in the back of the truck on a warm star filled tropical night. Lower Dover is so called because white rocks at the mouth of the river reminded the early loggers of the White Cliffs of Dover back home. Other unique features of its location are that it is accessible by public transport and is actually built on top of unexcavated original Mayan ruins.

Lower Dover Station and Jungle Lodge has been rated #1 Speciality Lodging in the area for three years running and it’s easy to see why. With its warm friendly welcome, amazing location, super cute cabins and good home cooking, it’s a lovely place to stay, plus they serve Hibiscus sparkling wine at dinner! The Lower Dover Lodge is a great value place to stay from only 15 USD per night in the low season. Breakfast and dinner is included.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Elaine, a writer and traveler, is drawn to vibrant cultures distinct from the United Kingdom, relishing local street markets. She also has a penchant for eco and nature tourism, and her travels...Read more

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