Bull Races

Bull races,  is known as Makepung, is Balinese tradition and unforgetable sight.
The Negara Bull Races in Bali is held in Perancak, a little way away from Negara, and are a Balinese tradition. Negara Bull Races in Bali are one of the many Bali Events and Festivals in the month of June/July, and are held between July and October, on Sundays. The origin of the Negara Bull Races in Bali is not known, but it is assumed to be a celebration of the end of the rice harvest. Makepung buffalo race is held between the two groups, not individual participants. Each group consisted of ten to twenty pairs of buffalo race each other. Two pairs of buffaloes from the two competing groups will compete in track race fast racing along about 3 kilometers.


The bulls are chosen carefully, on the basis of strength and color. Once a bull has been chosen as a racer, it receives endless care and attention from its owner. It lives in luxury unlike its unfortunate brother or sister which works the fields. Potential champion is housed separately in comfortable lodging and fed special protein diet full to enhance its racing performance.

Makepung starts in the morning and by mid-day it’s all over. Early in the morning, 100 water buffaloes decorated with colorful silk flags, ribbons and jangling bells are led into the race track by their owners. At first, these are paraded before the spectators, and then the race begins, with two pairs racing at one time.

Start was not done in one line, but a different distance, say 10 miles. Determining the winner was also different. If participants are able to obtain start in front of the far distance as the finish, he was the one who wins. But if participants start at the back could shorten the distance it was he who wins.


Entrants are judged not only for speed but also awarded point for strength, color, and style. The winning bulls are used for stud and fetch up to twice market value when sold.

Photos by Jakop Iskander.