Пещера "Оптимістична"


Useful Information

Location: Lisova 14, Korolivka, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine 48736.
(48.734960, 25.973481)
Open: All year after appointment.
Classification: SpeleologyGypsum Cave
Light: bring caving gear
Dimension: L=264,576 m, VR=15 m, A=471 m asl.
Guided tours: seven different tours of different length and duration
Photography: allowed
Accessibility: no
Bibliography: Alexander B. Klimchouk (1996): Gypsum Karst in the Western Ukraine, International Journal of Speleology, vol. 25, #3-4, 1996, Chapter II.9, p. 263-278. online researchgate academia.edu DOI
Address: Optymistychna, Optimistic Cave, Lisova 14, Korolivka, Ternopil Oblast, Ukraine 48736, Tel: +380-97-225-5877.
Vika Dvoretska, PR Manager, Lviv speleoclub "Cyclop", Viber: +380-95-548-90-38. E-mail:
Ihor Trotsyuk, CEO, Lviv speleoclub "Cyclop", Viber, Whatsapp: +380-95-20-25-250. E-mail:
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
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1966 cave discovered by the speleologists of the Lviv speleological club "Cyclop".
2008 declared a Natural Wonder of Ukraine.
2010 opened to the public but in an undeveloped state.


Оптимістична (Optymistychna, Cave "Optimistic") is quite famous among cavers, as it is the longest gypsum cave of the World. It is also known as Пещера "Оптимистическая" (Peschtschera Optimistitscheskaya), which is the Soviet era transliteration of the Ukrainian name and is now considered deprecated. Not long ago it was the second-longest cave of the world, but currently its on rank 6 [2023]. However, it is the longest cave of Eurasia. The cave is a huge labyrinth in gypsum which has only one level, in other words there is no climbing or abseiling, its mostly horizontal walking and of course narrow crawls. It is located in a layer of Miocene (Badenian) gypsum which is only 30 m thick and horizontal.

Obviously there is no way to see the sheer size of this cave. While the passages are sometimes spacious, they are not huge, in average they 3 m wide and 1.5 m high, in other words a lot of stooping. The actually interesting thing with this cave is not the size, it's the really impressive speleothems and the underground museum. The cave has gypsum minerals of enormous size, like selenite and gypsum flowers, it has calcite speleothems like stalactites and stalagmites, but also spectacular helictites. They are located some distance into the cave system and are not shown on the easy tours, only on the longer ones. The calcite based speleothems are quite exceptional, as the material for their formation cannot originate from the gypsum. On top of the gypsum layer is a limestone layer, the limestone is dissolved by the dripping water and precipitated in the gypsum cave below.

This cave is an undeveloped show cave, or in other words they have opened the cave for the public, but only with semi-wild and wild cave trekking tours. The most popular routes were marked with ribbon to make sure the visitors stay on a restricted area, but that's the full extend of the development. Visitors are equipped with full caving gear, helmet, headlamp, gloves and kneepads. That's actually necessary as the cave is sometimes quite muddy. There are seven different tourist routes, which are between three km and 18 km long, the tours take between three and 14 hours. They guide in Ukrainian, Russian, Polish, English, and French, which shows that this cave is actually intended to earn some money for the Ukrainian cavers. Visitors meet at the speleobase in Lisova 14 in Korolivka village. The guided tours are offered by the Lviv speleoclub "Cyclop", whose members discovered the cave in 1966 and have explored it for more than 50 years.

In April 1965 a group of Lviv cave explorers, M. Savchin, V. Vasil'ev, I. Kachkovsky, I. Maljavina explored the nearby Vetrovajya (Windy Cave). They found a massive gypsum cliff near Korolivka, with a huge spring at its foot. One year later in May 1966 M. Savchin and A. Soljar made the cave behind accessible by digging a channel into the cave behind the spring. After a 100 m crawl they reached a labyrinth of passages. They started exploring and surveying, and after half a year the cave was already 10 km long. They called this vast system Vhodnoy (Entrance Section), and immediately they discovered another 10 km of cave. By 1984 the cave had reached a length of 50 km, and they discovered a cave lake in the western part which provided drinking water and allowed longer expeditions with bivouac.

To explore and survey such a huge cave system takes a lot of time and manpower. Optimistic cave was actually explored by speleologists from Ukraine, Bulgaria, Russia, Poland, Belarus, Great Britain, France, Hungary, Germany, Slovakia, Greece, Italy, Spain, Norway, Slovenia, USA, Czech Republic and others. In other words, while several Ukrainian caving clubs did most of the work the cave was frequented by cavers from all over the world who helped. It became famous and was