Nyeri is a laid back country town. Its Central Business District is small, with only a few buildings being above five stories and one above eight, and its general appearance, owing mostly to lack of sidewalk paving and the basic decoration of its buildings, is dusty and shabby.
A number of renowned people have hailed from Nyeri, most notably the Nobel Peace Prize winner in 2004,Wangari Maathai, Mwai Kibaki, Kenya's current president, Dedan Kimathi, a general in the Mau Mau resistance war against the British colonizers, and Catherine Ndereba, Olympic marathon Silver Medalist, world marathon champion, four time Boston Marathon winner and multiple time winner of Chicago and other marathons.
Nyeri is also the burial place of Lord Robert Baden-Powell, a fighter in the Boer War and the founder of the Scouting movement, who once wrote "the nearer to Nyeri the nearer to bliss". He and his wife are buried in the town cemetery, along with legendary hunter/conservationist Jim Corbett,the author of Maneaters of Kumaon (1944) who also spent his final years in Kenya. Baden-Powell's Paxtu cottage, now a small museum, stands on the grounds of the Outspan Hotel.
Towards the end of 1902,as the British were establishing their colonial presence, Richard Meinertzhagen marched a strong military column meeting spirited resistance from the native Kikuyu warriors led by Wangombe Wa Ihura. The Kikuyu, whose spears and arrows were no match for the modern European weaponry unleashed against them, were eventually defeated .
After Meinertzhagen's victory, a decision was reached to site a British post close to a little hill on the slopes of Mt Kenya. The Kikuyu called the hill Kia-Nyiri while their Maasai neighbours called the hill Na-aier. The post took its name from the little hill. Thus, on December 18th 1902, Nyeri was born.
The White Rhino Hotel, Outspan Hotel, and the Aberdare Country Club at nearby Mweiga are relics of those colonial days.
Nyeri is served by a reasonably well-maintained tarmac road network connecting it to Nairobi, Nakuru, Nanyuki, Othaya and other surrounding towns.
Most transportation of cargo to and from Nyeri is by road, though the town has a largely underutilized railway station at Kiganjo (about six kilometers out of town towards Nanyuki) on the branchline of the railway from Nairobi to Nanyuki, and an Airstrip at Mweiga (about 15 Kilometers out of Town towards Nakuru).
The main mode of public passenger transport to, from, and within Nyeri is by way of fourteen-seater minibus taxis (matatus), though un-metered (but inexpensive) saloon car taxis are also widely used within the town.
Nyeri, being an unpolluted country town with a friendly population and numerous serene quiet areas, is a good and popular destination for relaxation, business, entertainment, and educational/cultural tourism.
Its pubs offer lively entertainment, the farms in and around it offer pristine scenery, and the grave of the scouting Movement's founder, Lord Robert Baden-Powell and his paxtu cottage are popular attractions.
The most imposing landmark around Nyeri is Mount Kenya, and starting from about twenty kilometers out of town is the Mt. Kenya National Park. Mt.Kenya is an imposing extinct volcano lying strategically astride the Equator which rises to an imposing height of 17058 ft. It is the highest mountain in the country and the second, after Kilimanjaro, in Africa. It has two main snow covered peaks, Batian and Nelion.
Its slopes are cloaked in forest, bamboo, scrub and moorland giving way on high central peaks to rock, ice and snow. Its U-shaped glacial valleys, rugged snow capped peaks, Afro-alpine desert, thirty lakes and eight different natural forest types and a variety of wildlife species make it a convergence of natural attractions. The wildlife found in the park include giant forest hog, tree hyrax, white tailed mongoose, black leopard, bongo, elephant, black rhino, suni, black fronted duiker, mole-rat and over 130 species of birds.
Activities carried out in the park include game drives, nature walks, mountain climbing, wildlife viewing, camping and cave exploration.
Accommodation around Mount kenya are:
About fifteen Kilometers out of town on the opposite side to Mt. Kenya is the Aberdare National Park.
The Aberdares is an older volcanic mountain range with shorter peaks due to longer erosion.
It offers matchless views of Mount Kenya and the Great Rift Valley. Its unusual vegetation, rugged terrain, deep ravines cutting through its forested eastern and western slopes, clear water streams and waterfalls combine to create an area of great scenic beauty. Its major attractions include the Lesatima and Kinangop peaks and many waterfalls, including the magnificent Karuru falls which drop 300m.
The park is home to many endangered species including the rare bongo, giant forest hog, packs of the now very rare wild dogs, and endemic mole-rat and mole shrew. Other game include a large population of black rhino, leopard servile, endemic bird species, reptiles and insects.
Activities include game drives and nature walks. Both brown and rainbow trout abound in the cool mountain streams and provide excellent angling. Within the Park, the Ark and the Treetops Lodges, which are located next to watering holes, offer close proximity night game viewing.
It was at the Treetops Lodge where the Queen Elizabeth II ascended to the throne while on a honeymoon retreat.
The park is also famous for freedom fighter hide-outs including the Kimathi hideouts, the Mau-Mau caves, and the Kimathi "post office" where agents used to drop messages for Mau Mau fighters.
Close to town are several privately owned ranches, many of which also serve as private wildlife sanctuaries/conservancies. They also offer visitors an "exclusive colonial style experience", and a good number of the world's high and mighty, and celebrities, have spent secret private holidays in some of them.