Leaf Cutter Ants Harvesting Cashew Leaves at Lower Dover

These Leaf cutter Ants were caught red legged with our cashew leaves the other day! We had to get a camera before spraying our organic poison on them. In a spray bottle mix dish soap, dirt from the ant nest, and water around the base of the tree and on the leaves. This does the trick 90% of the time. Supposedly there is a Maya prayer for the other 10 percent? We have to learn that one!


Sunday Snapshots: Guest Photos from Lower Dover

Recently a friend and photographer, Christy Brinnehl, came to Lower Dover looking to escape the winter up north in Chicago. Here are some of the photos she took while hanging out on the farm at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Belize.

Sheep Farm at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge - Christy Brinnehl

Turkey Picture from Lower Dover Jungle Lodge - Christy Brinnehl

And she took these photos of Jungle Lodge.

Arriving at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Belize - Christy Brinnehl

Red Cabana and an Orange at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Belize - Christy Brinnehl

Rasta cabana at night - Christy Brinnehl - UFO?

And everyone loves dog photos.

Chaya and Independence at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge - Christy Brinnehl

Puppies playing at Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Belize - Christy Brinnehl

She got some good photos of the jungle on our nature hike through the 100 acres.

Jungle Hike at Lower Dover in Belize - Christy Brinnehl

Jungle Trail at Lower Dover in Belize - Christy Brinnehl

Jungle pictures from Belize nature hike - Christy Brinnehl

And managed to get some nice shots of the view from the unexcavated Mayan site on our property. This Maya temple is alongside the Belize River overlooking modern day Spanish Lookout.

View of Barton Ramie Maya Settlement from Lower Dover Plaza H - Christy Brinnehl

Mennonite community of Spanish Lookout aka Barton Ramie Mayan Site seen from Lower Dover

For more photos from Christy click here.


Belize National Park: Blue Hole and St. Herman’s Cave

St. Herman's Blue Hole National Park.

Blue Hole National Park Map.

One of the easiest and most affordable tours in Western Belize is the Blue Hole National Park and the adjacent St. Herman’s Cave. Both can be accessed by bus between the major cities of Belmopan and Dangriga. It is only $8BZE to enter the parks, and make sure you keep your receipt so you can enter both.

Inside St. Herman's Cave looking up the entrance.

We suggest going to St. Herman’s Cave first. Headlights are a must have while traveling in Belize, especially when caving. It’s easily the most recommended thing to bring for travelers as well as the most forgotten. It’s a short 30 minute walk on the low-ground trail to the cave entrance from the ranger station. If you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, a slightly more challenging 30 minute hike up the ridge overlooking the valley is also possible.

Heading into St. Herman's Cave

Once inside, it is possible to go about 200 yards along a well identified path along the edge of the cave. All self guided tours are instructed to stop at the well marked sign. At the sign, you can enter the creek that runs through the cave to wash your hands or splash a friend. While there, be sure to have everyone turn off their headlights to really experience the darkness of the cave.

Caves are dark! Looking into the creek at St. Herman's Cave.

Heading back to the entrance of St. Herman's Cave.

If traveling by bus, it might be better to just hike the short 3/4 of mile nature trail to the Blue Hole. The park is managed by the Belize Audubon Society, and which claims to have identified 200 bird species within park boundaries. If you’re into birding, don’t forget your binoculars. If you don’t feel like trekking the jungle trail, you can walk along the highway or try and hail a bus, although it’s only 1 mile to the Blue Hole from St. Herman’s Cave.

The Blue Hole at Blue Hole National Park

The inland Blue Hole is a sinkhole created by the collapsed remains of the St. Herman’s cave system. The water flows from the 30 foot deep pool for 50 yards before it enters St. Herman’s Cave. It is possible to have a picnic and swim here, but it always seems like the mosquitos are biting, so be sure to bring your repellant. Also, be warned that if it has been raining hard, the Blue Hole can actually be a “brown hole” so plan your trip accordingly.

Blue Hole in Belize.

Belize Day Tours: Tikal National Park

One of the main Maya temples at Tikal.

The ancient Maya city of Tikal is one of the great attractions on the Maya Trail. The Mayan Trail stretches from the Yucatan in Mexico, into Guatemala, and all throughout Belize.  It is a common stop for backpackers looking to see the best of the Mayan heartland. If you can only see one Maya site, Tikal National Park is our top pick for Maya travel destination in 2012.

Mayan Temple at Tikal National Park.

Tikal National Park in Guatemala.

Map of Tikal National Park

Located within the Peten Maya Biosphere Reserve, which covers a huge portion of Northern Guatemala, Tikal is one of many archaeology sites in the area. It was once a great capital city during Classic Maya times. It remained extremely important until neighboring capital Caracol conquered the city in 556 AD. A 130 year hiatus of building ensued. Only after Tikal conquered Caracol’s closest ally, Calakmul, in 695 AD did Tikal regain it’s significance in the Maya world. It was after this time that the 5 largest Maya temples were built. Great Mayan monuments continued to be built until 869 AD, the last recorded date on Stela 24 at Tikal.

Tikal Stele.

Tikal Stelae in Guatemala.

Tikal Stelae

Amazingly, it is possible to climb to the top of these Mayan temples, though it requires using narrow ladders built along the side of the structures. It’s much easier up than down!

Another Mayan temple at Tikal National Park.

Stairs at Tikal National Park

The stairs at Tikal National Park

Watch your step! The long walk down at Tikal.

The temples stretch above the jungle canopy making for breathtaking views. In fact, the view was so perfect that George Lucas used it in the making of Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope. The shot where a Rebel oversees the Millennium Falcon landing on Yavin was taken on top of a building known as Temple IV looking east where Temple I, II and III can be seen on film.

The view at Tikal as seen in Star Wars IV: A New Hope.

Another amazing view at Tikal.

Tikal sits within a vast nature reserve, and wildlife sightings are very common. Expect to have photo opportunities of Howler Monkeys, Spider Monkeys, Quash, and many different birds. Make sure you don’t hit any driving in!

Snake at Tikal National Park.

Quash aka Coatimundi at Tikal National Park

Tikal is a common travel destination for people vacationing in Belize. It’s close proximity ( about 2 hours) from San Ignacio in Western Belize, makes it a great day trip while in Belize. Tomorrow we will do a story on getting to Tikal from Lower Dover Jungle Lodge in Western Belize by organized tour, public transit, or rented vehicle.

Maya Temple at Tikal National Park.

Tikal National Park Guatemala.