It's an unbeatable feeling, standing on top of a massive sand dune and staring into the expanse of an enormous continent with miles of desert before you, sand swirling around your face, shielded by a long scarf. A trip into the Erg Chebbi dunes of Morocco can facilitate such a feeling. Erg Chebbi is part of the Saharan ergs just west of the Algerian border. In warmer months, Moroccans will bury themselves to the neck in the hot sand, as part of a traditional treatment for rheumatism.
The quintessential tourist way to experience this area is via camel ride, but it is possible to trek the dunes on foot. The assistance of a guide is recommended, however, as the valleys of the dunes can be disorienting, and getting lost in the heat can be dangerous. Most guided tours are arranged via any of the myriad of hotels along the edge of the desert in Merzouga.* If possible, try to spend a night in a traditional Berber tent village on the edge of Erg Chebbi. Truly the most magical time in the desert is dusk through dawn, when the light changes the colors of the sky and the sand, and the night stars come out for an amazing show.
While it may seem that a sandy desert is bereft of much life, many mammals, insects, and birds are awake and alert at night. Keep an eye out for footprints and scarab tracks left behind in the morning, before the wind erases the evidence.
*Hotel Nomad Palace, at the southern edge of town, offers a guided trip through the edge of the desert, which is less thronged with other tourists.