The classic Merzouga excursion is to head into the desert and overnight in safari tents. Plan on sunset camel rides, fireside music jams and star-filled nights, followed by an early morning walk to the tallest nearby dune to watch the sunrise. To best experience the desert's ethereal beauty, plan carefully and come out of season. The end of November, and January and February are the quietest times and some of the best weather-wise.
Most hotels offer excursions into the dunes, ranging from Dh150 to Dh300 for two-hour sunrise or sunset camel treks. Overnight trips (Dh350 to Dh700 per person) usually include a bed in a Berber tent, dinner and breakfast; 4WD outings (up to Dh1200 per day) for a vehicle taking up to five passengers are more expensive. Invasive quads (dune buggies), which level dunes and disturb residents and wildlife, are not recommended.
If you show up in town unaccompanied by a guide or a dromedary, you can anticipate repeated offers of both. Try to keep it in perspective: getting by in the desert is notoriously tough. If you feel pressured, step away from the interaction.