Although both the National Park and the Conservancy offer great safari experiences, there are some differences that should be looked at prior to planning your trip to Kenya.
Conservancies such as Mara Naboisho Conservancy are managed privately for the purpose of conservation. Safaris in the conservancies offer a more exclusive safari experience. Due to the limited number of vehicles per game drive, it is possible to experience the African wilderness without encountering a huge number of other vehicles.
Activities within conservancies are also not limited to day game drives but include night drives and guided bush walks which are part of your safari experience a highlight for many who stay within the conservancy. Often these activities are not allowed in national parks. There is no self-drive safari option in the conservancy but since you are accompanied by well-trained guides, your experience is maximized. The guides can drive off-road in search of big cats, and other wildlife.
Kenya National Parks such as the Masai Mara National Reserve are managed by the Government. Since national parks have hours of operation, travelers must abide by these hours and rules during their visit -normally sunrise to sunset– meaning no night drives are allowed. Game drives are also restricted only to the extensive road network at all times. There is no limit on the number of vehicles per sighting, often leading to congregations around certain wildlife species. Activities such as night drives and guided bush walks are not included in your stay.
There is really no definitive answer as to which is best. It really depends on where you are going and what you are hoping to get out of your safari. You can also decide to visit both the national park and the Conservancy, so you get the best of both worlds.
Plan your visit to Masai Mara National Reserve and Mara Naboisho Conservancy