My wife and I just returned from a 23 day trip to Mongolia.
It was an amazing trip.
We drove a diesel 2009 Nissan Patrol DX for 5100 kilometers. We had a guide vehicle in the lead as road signs are almost non existent or written only in Cyrillic. Many tracks that lead in the general direction of your next destination sometimes converge again or diverge into parts unknown or a herder's Ger. We brought along a GPS with roads of Mongolia loaded. Most tracks were shown but several were not.
The Patrol is very capable truck, however I did not like the long hood and front over hang when dropping into dry washes,streams/rivers or cresting steep hills.
We started in Ulaanbaatar (UB) driving west visiting Hustai National Park and several lakes on the way to the mountains of Altan Bogd on border with Russia and Kazakhstan. You need a special permit from the Mongolian Border Patrol to be in the area.
From there we drove to the Jargalant Mountains, then on to Kherman Tsav a paleontological site in southern Mongolia, from there on to Khongoryn Els the dunes of the Gobi, on to the Flaming Cliffs, White Stupas and back to UB. Driving in UB is an experience all its own. Very aggressive drivers in a very traffic congested city.
The major roads connecting the Provincial Capitals may start out as paved roads then turn into dirt tracks then back to pavement again. The roads may be paved but are often pockmarked with craters in the pavement and herds of goats, sheep, horses, cows, yaks or camels randomly crossing the road.
Off road tracks between towns can be rough and rutted or smooth as you cross the steppe, We drove in sandy dry washes, deep sand, a little mud and had many stream/river crossings Other than on the paved main roads Mongolians do not believe in culverts for streams or rivers and at times their roads make our roughest Forest Service roads seem like the interstate but somehow Mongolians in Toyota Prius's, Hyundai's, buses. trucks and tractor trailers negotiate the roads. Land Cruiser, the Russian UAZ 452 Van and UAZ 469 Hunter dominate the 4x4 market. Toyota, Hyundai and Kia the cars and Hyundai the small work trucks
Along the way we were able to see ancient burial mounds (Balbals). Tugricks ( carved stone human figures) and Deerstones. Visited a couple of museums.
We visited a Kazak who hunts with Golden Eagles and explored a couple of petroglyph sites.
We saw camels, Mongolian Gazelles, Ibex, Red Deer and the Prezwalski Horse as well as many new bird species.
There are few people outside of UB mostly nomadic herders living in Gers.