Pestera Emil Racovita

Emil Racovita Cave - Zolushka

Useful Information

Location: Criva, Edinet, Moldova
Classification: SpeleologyKarst cave. SpeleologyGypsum cave
Dimension: L=90,200 m, VR=30 m.
Guided tours:
Address: Moldova National Tourism Agency, 180 Stefan cel Mare Street, Office 901, Chisinau MD 2004, Moldova, Tel: +373-22-210774.
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1959 discovered during quarry works.


Pestera Emil Racovita is a gypsum cave which was discovered after a blast in a gypsum quarry. Named after the eminent 19th century Romanian biologist, zoologist, and caver ExplainEmil Racoviţă. Actually this name is used for tourists, it seems the tourist agency renamed it for better marketing. The official name of the cave system is Zolushka.

Pestera Emil Racovita is located in the border area between Romania, the Ukraine and Moldova. The entrance is near the border station between Criva in Moldavia and Mamalyha in the Ukraine. The border to Romania is only two kilometers to the south, but it is formed by the river Prut which is the drainage of the gypsum karst and thus the cave does not cross the river.

The cave is officially described as a great tourist destination and "one of the biggest caves in the world". Both is not exactly true. Actually Pestera Emil Racovita has wide passages which are mostly horizontal. There is a sort of trail which was formed by the visitors walking on the soft gypsum floor. There is no electric light, visitors can organize an experienced guide and must bring personal equipment. Most visitors obviously just bring old clothes, sturdy boots, and a lamp. We recommend a helmet with headlamp and a caver overall. As far as we understood the visit does not require any climbing or crawling.

The second statement, about one of the longest caves is somewhat confusing. Actually there are hundreds of caves which are much longer. But it is the third longest gypsum cave of the world as listed by Bob Gulden [2010]. Gypsum karst is much rarer than limestone karst which is a result of the fast solution of gypsum once it reached the weathering zone. The huge formation of gypsum in the area was a precondition to the formation of this huge cave system.